Bruges police deny 'arbitrary arrests' after complaints from Greek football fans

Bruges police deny that they arbitrarily arrested supporters of Greek football team PAOK Saloniki who had travelled for their club's UEFA Conference League match against Club Brugge on Thursday. The Greek team filed a complaint with UEFA because it feels the local police used unnecessary violence against its supporters.

Before the match, several Greek supporters were detained by police at the Jan Breydel Stadium in Bruges. More incidents followed after the match, which Club won 1-0.

According to PAOK’s statement on its website, the police "arbitrarily arrested people with valid tickets, who were subsequently denied entry to the stadium". Tear gas and water cannon were also allegedly deployed "against people who were picnicking". When PAOK fans wanted to leave the stadium, they were met with "blind violence".

The club also lodged a complaint with the Greek embassy in Belgium, demanded that those "responsible for the suffering of our supporters receive an exemplary punishment", and wants compensation for its own fans. In addition, the Greek team demanded that Club Brugge condemn the actions of the police.

Bruges police, however, deny the allegations and say they only used “gradual, strategic force” against “supporters without tickets who did everything they could to forcefully enter the stadium even before ticketing opened”.

“At one point, so many people were pushing and shoving that the situation became particularly dangerous for police officers, stewards and all supporters," the police said in a statement. According to the police, some supporters without tickets entered the stadium at the expense of fans with tickets.

“It raises eyebrows that the Greek supporters, with all the litter and damage they left behind in the Markt, are now claiming they were just having a nice picnic. The images speak for themselves," the police added. About five police officers sustained injuries in various incidents with the PAOK supporters.



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