West Ham stars to avoid Uefa ban threat for Conference League final after defending families in Alkmaar
West Ham’s players will avoid the threat of a ban in the run-up to the Europa Conference League final, with UEFA action over last week’s carnage at AZ Alkmaar set to be delayed until after next month’s showpiece in Prague.
David Moyes’s side are preparing for the club’s first major European final for 47 years, having beaten the Dutch outfit 3-1 on aggregate to set up a meeting with Fiorentina.
The Hammers’ 1-0 win in second leg of the tie on Thursday was marred by violence, however, as Alkmaar ultras attacked a section of visiting supporters, including the families of West Ham players and staff, following the full-time whistle at the AFAS Stadion.
The attack prompted several players, including Flynn Downes, Said Benrahma, Michail Antonio and Aaron Cresswell, to wade in in defence of their loved ones.
It remains to seen whether UEFA take action against those individuals or the club, or whether their actions are excused on the grounds of exceptional circumstances. Either way, though, no decision is expected to come before the final on June 7.
While UEFA have not made a specific decision to delay their response, it is understood there are several factors which mean any charges will not come until the off-season.
Firstly, it is Alkmaar who will face the most severe punishment and the fact that they have been eliminated from the tournament negates the need for an accelerated process.
Secondly, UEFA are still reviewing footage and reports from the incident before deciding whether to launch a separate investigation. Were they to do so, the appointment of a special inspector would see the process drawn out further.
Speaking after Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Leeds in the Premier League, Moyes said he was not concerned by the possibility of his players being sanctioned.
“I can’t see any problem, to be honest,” the Scot said. “I work with UEFA on the technical stuff and I don’t think we’ll have any questions asked about that. That’s my own opinion.”
It is not unusual for UEFA’s disciplinary body to take a significant amount of time over punishments. Last season, Declan Rice and Moyes were each hit with bans over their behaviour during West Ham’s Europa League semi-final exit against Eintracht Frankfurt but did not learn of their fate until six weeks after the match. They served their suspensions during this season’s Conference League qualifying round.