February 25 – Manchester United fans group ‘MUST’ has written an open letter to the mayor of Bruges, complaining of what they call “deplorable treatment” during their trip to the city last Thursday to attend their club’s Europa League match. The letter also says “fans were in genuine fear for their safety.”
Last week, Manchester United drew 1-1 with Club Brugge in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie, but the visiting fans have blasted Bruges for the experience they suffered at the hands of their Belgian hosts. In stormy conditions, the decrepit Jan Breydelstadion, which last received a major facelift ahead of Euro 2000, turned out to be the “the worst experience of a European away game they’d had for many years”, according to the fan group.
The letter read: “We returned home with an impression of Bruges that should shame all those responsible for our safety and security.
“We have numerous reports that the police instructed taxi drivers to stay away from the ground and not to pick up Manchester United fans. It was a long walk in horrendous weather conditions from the town to the stadium.”
The complaint also questioned the local police’s use of water cannons and barbed wire barriers, as well as an apparent refusal to allow supporters to exit the stadium. The letter details that the stadium’s exit gates were “locked leading to the build-up of crowds and the risk of a crush developing.”
With no roof covering the away section and torrential rains, fans were left to their own devices. “We would be embarrassed if visitors to Manchester were treated as described above – are you not ashamed of the way visitors to your city were treated?” continued the letter. “Poor treatment is one issue but the safety concerns go far beyond that and we will be sending a report to UEFA outlining the issues our supporters have sent to us.”
In a reaction to local media, Bruges mayor Dirk De fauw explained that: “The police want to keep the supporter groups separate, and that is why the visiting supporters have to wait a little longer before they can leave the stadium.”
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1590570939labto1590570939ofdlr1590570939owedi1590570939sni@t1590570939catno1590570939c1590570939