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Police charge more than 40 away fans after major disorder outside Villa Park

Police officers with dogs as flares are set off outside the stadium (David Davies/PA)
Police officers with dogs as flares are set off outside the stadium (David Davies/PA)

Police have charged 46 men after Legia Warsaw supporters attacked police outside Villa Park in Birmingham on Thursday.

West Midlands Police said five officers, two police dogs and two police horses were injured when missiles were thrown by visiting fans during the Europa Conference League fixture.

In a statement confirming details of the charges, the force said 43 men have been charged with a public order offence, two with assaulting police officers and another with possession of a knife.

The statement added: “Those charged are aged between 21 and 63, and around 40 are believed to be from Poland. A small number are believed to be UK residents.

“All apart from one of the men is due in court today. He has been bailed to appear at a later date.

“A special court has been set up at Birmingham magistrates and will begin hearing the cases this morning.”

Officers are continuing to review CCTV and body-worn video footage to identify further suspects after “what was an appalling and violent public disorder”.

Aston Villa v Legia Warsaw – UEFA Europa Conference League – Group E – Villa Park
Police attempt to put out flares thrown towards them on Thursday night (David Davies/PA)

Two West Midlands Police officers, two from West Mercia and one from Derbyshire Police suffered minor injuries during the violence.

Detective Superintendent Jim Munro, who is overseeing the criminal investigation, said: “Our investigation is very much continuing and we’ll be reviewing footage and speaking to witnesses over the coming days.

“To charge this number of people so soon after such a major disorder has taken a huge effort by staff who have been working around the clock.

“We’ve had a number of messages of thanks from the club and fans who were present on Thursday night and saw the policing operation first hand, and we are really grateful for that support.”

Police said fans of the Polish side were not allowed into the stadium after missiles were thrown at officers before the start of the match.

Aston Villa v Legia Warsaw – UEFA Europa Conference League – Group E – Villa Park
Empty seats in the away section during the match at Villa Park (David Davies/PA)

West Midlands mayor Andy Street has called for European football chiefs to take “strong action” as he thanked the “brave officers” and criticised the “deeply unpleasant scenes”.

In a previous statement, Chief Inspector Tim Robinson said: “This should have been a great evening of football which was enjoyed by fans from both clubs.

“Unfortunately, there were appalling scenes which saw away fans dangerously throw flares and other missiles at our officers.”

He said the “extreme violence” left police with no other choice but to prevent away fans entering the stadium, adding: “The safety of everyone is our priority and clearly we had no other option.”