Is the Camp Nou the worst ground for away fans in Europe?

by Mark Solomons

While the team on the pitch did everything they could to give us something to cheer about, the police and local stewards had other ideas. Is Camp Nou the worst away day in Europe , Mark Solomons argues that it just might be...

Is there another ground in the world where away fans are treated as appallingly as at the Nou Camp?

If there is, I haven’t seen one since the bad old days of the 1980s when Ken Bates unsuccessfully tried to install electric fences at Stamford Bridge.

Heavy handed policing, incompetent stewarding and, worst of all, dangerous crowd management that, on another night, could have ended in disaster.
The litany of chaos began with fans spending hours trying to get in as security made everyone empty their pockets and get body searched.

Police moved in with batons, indiscriminately hitting spectators. Credit to the travelling Spurs stewards who intervened.

Once inside, spectators were told to sit wherever they liked, those who argued were ejected, roughly, by the armed police situated every few yards.
The view to the pitch was through a wall of perspex, just in case any Olympic javelin thrower has sneaked in and was preparing to throw something on to the pitch a few postcodes away.

At the end of the game we went downstairs to the corridors behind the stands but found gates were locked to prevent us getting out.

As thousands more fans joined the crowds huddled here, it became worryingly crammed. Stewards and police looked on, silent and impassioned. No tannoy announcements, no signs, no communication from Barca’s officials. Spurs stewards tried to find out what was going on but learned nothing.
Eventually we were allowed out. European fan groups have asked for accounts of the treatment but the chances of UEFA doing anything against the world’s biggest football club is as unlikely as, well, as unlikely as a team needing to get a result in the Nou Camp to progress to the knockout stages while hoping the worst team in the group could manage the same result against Inter Milan.

Let’s face it, football’s authorities are hardly likely to take action against the richest, biggest, most successful club in the competition’s history. If it was us, or perhaps an East European side, then you can bet there would be some comeback, but not Barca. They’re ‘more than a football club.’ Certainly the fans were calling them a lot of other things that night.

Some supporters will no doubt feel Spurs should treat away fans this was to see how they like it. But I believe we show our class by making visitors feel welcome at whatever ground we happen to call home in any given week.

We eventually got back to Stansted just after three – 22 hours after the trip began. We noticed the plane taking us home was parked alongside Lionel Messi’s private jet at Barcelona airport (it has a number 10 on the tailfin to let you know it’s his.) I bet he doesn’t have this trouble!

Author

Mark Solomons

A 56-year-old, third generation Spurs supporter and journalist.

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