Chelsea boss Emma Hayes has urged Blues fans who were going to Paris next week for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) to still go, and not be put off by the incidents that occurred hours before Wednesday night’s match at home in Kingsmeadow.
Police have confirmed that they found, knives, knuckle dusters and class-A drugs in a coach full of travelling PSG fans.
Police said they were called to the ground at 8am to reports of a group of PSG supporters causing criminal damage at the Kingsmeadow Stadium.
When they arrived, they had left the scene.
Later in the day, officers were made aware of sporadic instances of disorder involving PSG supporters at Waterloo and Wimbledon railway stations.
Those involved were identified and when they attended Kingsmeadow in the evening for the match, they were stopped. A coach they travelled in was searched and weapons, including knives and knuckle dusters were recovered along with class-A drugs.
One man from the coach was arrested for possession of class-A drugs and the remaining passengers were escorted from the area by police.
Other reports from the ground suggested that the damage to the stadium consisted of graffiti daubed on the walls and an attempt was made to kick in a door.
It’s believed that when staff from AFC Wimbledon arrived, they told police to make the supporters clean the graffiti off the wall, which they did.
Hayes said after the 2-0 first leg win: “I’m sure that our security will be well briefed and the police took care of what they had to tonight. I expect the organisation and preparation for that will make sure that our fans are safe. I don't think we should discourage anyone from going. At the same time we have to remember that the women’s game is progressing and the fans are following, and with that comes the same level of scrutiny. Ultimately they have to behave whether it’s our fans or their fans. The police dealt with it in the right way.
“It did not affect us. We were more interested in the new design in the directors’ box inside, that shows that we are starting to take over this place and create more of a home.”
Of the game Hayes was naturally delighted: “It was a good result, 5-0 would have been a great result,” she said.
“They are a very good team. I always say to the players ‘play the game plan’ then it’s my responsibility if we don't win.
“I brought on Fran Kirby and Ramona Bachmann early in the second half, that was in the plan.
“I’ve learnt how to stay in the game in this competition. The last time we played Wolfsburg, we were 3-0 down at half-time. I’m not going to behave in a naive manner. We are showing our experience and the depth of quality in the squad.
“That doesn’t mean that every individual is going to be happy. But my job is to produce results, and we have produced a fabulous half-time performance so far.
“I’m paid to pick a winning team, part of that means that players will be unhappy with me, I have to live with that.”
Hayes had to contend with more than the opposition and unruly opposition supporters, she had several key players recovering from illness.
“I have had five or six players out with diarrhoea for five days,” she said. The fact is some players that played tonight were in bed for two days, including So-Yun Ji, Maren Mjelde, Fran and myself. As a result that was an exceptional performance, composed, controlled. It was a tactical game, cagey, but we produced the quality in the right moments in the game.’
The two goals came from Hannah Blundell and Erin Cuthbert but the scoreline does not rest too easily with Hayes
“I would not say that 2-0 is comfortable,” she said.
“There will be 15,000 people in the stadium in Paris next week. I expect it will be quite hostile. We will have to go through difficult moments like we did in Bayern Munich last year. Experience matters in this competition and I will keep reminding the team that with wounds you gain wisdom.
“We are always competitive and progressing. The team is much further ahead than it was 12 months ago.”