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Page last updated at 09:48 GMT, Wednesday, 26 August 2009 10:48 UK

FA to probe Upton Park violence

The FA's Adrian Bevington

Report - FA to probe violence at Upton Park

The Football Association is to investigate the violence that marred Tuesday's Carling Cup clash between West Ham and Millwall at Upton Park.

One man was stabbed as fans clashed outside the ground and there were three pitch invasions during the game.

"We absolutely condemn all of the disorder that has occurred at Upton Park," said an FA spokesperson.

"We will be working with all parties, the police and clubs, to establish the facts surrounding these events."

West Ham have vowed to ban for life any fan found guilty of being involved in the disturbances.

"Swift action will be taken as soon as possible, with life bans for anyone responsible for the disturbance," a statement from the club read.

Hammers chief executive Scott Duxbury added: "We will leave no stone unturned in rooting out the perpetrators."

FA director of communications Adrian Bevington said it was too early to decide whether the clubs themselves would face sanctions, amid concerns of inadequate stewarding at the game.

"We have to understand exactly what measures were put in place last night," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

"I am not going to condemn West Ham or Millwall football clubs for any of their actions - certainly not at this stage.

Police at West Ham v Millwall
Police worked to contain violence before, during and after the match

"We know there have been huge efforts on the parts of all our clubs to try to eradicate the problems and we've had a history of success on that.

"However, we have to make sure that the individuals concerned face such tough actions that they can't go to football again."

Police revealed that the victim of the stabbing was a 44-year-old man, who was attacked in Priory Road near the stadium before the game. He is in a stable condition in hospital.

This was the first time London rivals West Ham and Millwall had played each other since April 2005 and hundreds of fans were involved in the disorder.

606: DEBATE
Koos the Hammer

Eyewitness reports suggested opposing fans threw bottles and bricks at each other and starting small fires as police moved in to try and quell the disturbances.

Inside the stadium, police and stewards battled to remove fans from the pitch throughout the match, which West Ham won 3-1 in extra time.

The first pitch invasion was after Junior Stanislas' equaliser, while the second more serious encroachment occurred after the same player slotted a penalty to give the Hammers the lead.

Play was briefly suspended when referee Paul Taylor decided to take the players off the pitch.

It took officials about six minutes to clear about 50 people from the pitch and police had to redeploy within the stadium to tackle the invasion.

After the match, riot police lined the streets outside the ground, roads were closed and a helicopter flew overhead in preparation for further possible clashes as thousands of fans tried to leave the stadium at full time.

Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola condemned those responsible for the trouble after the match and said they were not fans of football.

"I've played seven years in England and I've never seen it like this," he said.

"It's certainly not good for football, I was completely shocked. Totally. I knew it was a game that meant a lot for the two sets of supporters but I didn't imagine it like this.

"What can I say? I'm a sport man. I love the game. I love to go on the pitch and try to make it exciting for the supporters and enjoyable for everybody to watch. This was beyond my powers."

Millwall boss Kenny Jackett said: "I didn't fear for my own safety. There were no Millwall fans on the pitch, they stayed where they were supposed to."

But Millwall striker Neil Harris said: "It was extremely hostile and volatile. All my concern was for my team-mates. At one stage it wasn't very pleasant."

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Ollie Williams

Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe gave his full support to the FA's investigation, adding: "We have made great progress in the past 20 years in tackling football hooliganism in this country and will not tolerate any return to the dark days of the 70s and 80s when it plagued the game."

The Football League, which organises the Carling Cup, condemned the scenes and promised to help identify and punish those involved.

Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters Federation, told the BBC he expected to discuss the violence at a routine meeting with FA chief executive Ian Watmore on Wednesday.

"It's important to get to the bottom of it but too many hysterical over-reactions don't help," he said.

"I can assure you the vast majority of Millwall and West Ham supporters will be as horrified by events that occurred as everybody else."



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see also
Millwall and Hammers slam racism
26 Aug 09 |  Football
London football violence probed
26 Aug 09 |  London
Mass violence mars London derby
25 Aug 09 |  London
Pitch invader carried young child
26 Aug 09 |  London
West Ham 3-1 Millwall (aet)
25 Aug 09 |  League Cup


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