Municipality of Groningen: ‘We were ambushed by the fight’

The municipality of Groningen says to be surprised by yesterday’s brawl in the city centre. There were dozens of German and Groningen football supporters fighting each other, with terrace furniture, bicycles and glassware. The police didn’t arrest anyone.

As a precaution, the municipality had already forbidden the supporters of Arminia Bielefeld to come to this afternoon’s practice match against FC Groningen. “We had indications that something might happen around the match on Sunday. For that reason we had issued an emergency order for Sunday, so that the police had the opportunity to send people away”, says a spokesman for mayor Schuiling.

According to a spokesman, the municipality had no indication that anything would happen before last night. Therefore, there was no extra police present in the centre at the time of the fight. “We’ve been robbed”, the spokesman admits.

The football supporters threw chairs and tables:

Immediately after the fight, the municipality brought forward the emergency order that had already been issued. It took effect immediately.

Prepared

Cafรฉ assistant Joachim van Eig says the German supporters were in his pub just before the fight last night. “They were very friendly. We didn’t immediately think of hooligans”, he tells RTV Noord. “The match against FC Groningen is Sunday, they’re coming here just to have a nice evening.”

According to Van Eig, the atmosphere suddenly changed. The men had just paid, it had to be done in a hurry, he noticed. “I think they had had contact with the Groningen rioters via the app or social media.”

According to Van Eig, the German supporters seemed prepared. “They suddenly did a bit in and covered their mouths and noses to be unrecognizable. And then they went loose. You could really see that they had done this more often.”

Smashed to smithereens

After the fight the street was littered with chairs, plants, tables, benches and glassware. “Usually it’s really nice here,” says pub owner Larissa van Duuren. “If you’ve seen this, you won’t be able to sleep well tonight. There’s a lot of rubbish.” Van Duuren is angry. “We’ve been having such a hard time as a hospitality industry since the start of the corona crisis. Now we can open again and we have this. How do you get it into your head?”

The municipality says that affected catering entrepreneurs can contact the municipality about the damage. “Then we’ll see what we can do,” says the spokesperson.

The municipality says it has no indications that things will go wrong again around this afternoon’s match. The municipality and the police have nothing to say about extra security measures, except that the emergency order is in force. According to the spokesman, a cancellation of the match never came up for discussion. “We won’t let a small group ruin something like this.”