Up to 50 Paris Saint-Germain fans were denied entry to a Women’s Champions League match Thursday after weapons, including knives and knuckledusters, were found on a coach taking fans to the quarterfinal tie in London.
In incidents not usually associated with women’s club football, one person was also arrested for possession of Class A drugs.
Earlier in the day, police were called to Kingsmeadow Stadium in Kingston, southwest London, after receiving reports that fans had caused criminal damage outside the stadium.
“Officers attended but all those involved had left the scene,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
Police were made aware of “sporadic instances of disorder” involving PSG supporters at two train stations in the English capital later in the day. Those involved were identified and stopped outside the stadium Thursday evening.
“A coach they traveled in was searched and weapons, including knives and knuckle dusters, were recovered along with class A drugs,” the statement continued.
“One man from the coach was arrested for possession of class A drugs and the remaining passengers were escorted from the area by police.”
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However, in a statement posted on its website on Friday, PSG criticized the Metropolitan Police and Chelsea and supported its fans.
“We repeat that the local authorities have not brought any evidence of wrongdoing, or at least no fact the gravity of which would justify such a ban on attending the match,” the statement read.
“All of our supporters have been searched, and if any of these searches or facts had been under criminal law, we can imagine that the concerned supporter(s) would not have been able to leave British territory without being disturbed.
“Surprisingly, we note that the club of Chelsea, the morning of the match, did not want the presence of our supporters, arguing of alleged damage to the stadium which are, according to local testimonies, prior to the arrival of our fans in London …
“We express our fullest support to fans of Paris Saint-Germain who, in the middle of the week, had arranged their schedule to come support our women’s team and we count on their fervor during the return match next Wednesday, Paris.”
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Goals from Hannah Blundell and Erin Cuthbert secured a 2-0 win for Chelsea in the first-leg tie, giving the Londoners real hope of progressing to the last four for the second season in succession.
Chelsea Women’s manager Emma Hayes said she hoped Chelsea supporters would not be deterred from traveling to Paris for the second leg on March 27.
“I don’t think we should discourage anyone from going,” she told reporters.
“But at the same time we have got remember that the women’s game is progressing and the fans are following. With that comes the same level of scrutiny. But they have to behave, whether that’s our fans or theirs.”
Women’s football in England was boosted this week with news that Barclays is to sponsor the Women’s Super League – the country’s top division – over the next three seasons in a deal reported to be worth £10 million ($13m).