West Ham Wins Europa Conference League Final Amidst Fan Violence and Controversy
West Ham United won their first major trophy in roughly 50 years on Wednesday, but the Europa Conference League final against Fiorentina was marred by fan violence and controversy.
During the first half of the game, some West Ham supporters threw trash on the field, hitting Fiorentina's Cristiano Biraghi in the head while he was taking a corner. Biraghi suffered a cut on the back of his head, but continued to play with a purple gauze around his head. The stadium announcer urged supporters to stop throwing objects, and some West Ham players also went over to ask their fans to stop.
Prior to the game, a group of Fiorentina fans attacked West Ham supporters in a bar in Prague, leaving three fans and one police officer injured, and 16 people detained. Despite these incidents, thousands of fans arrived in Prague for the final, and both clubs were hoping to end their long European trophy droughts.
West Ham fans were warned not to throw any other objects, and 16 people were arrested before the match due to a brawl between Italian and West Ham fans. Despite the chaos, the game continued without further incident, and West Ham won 2-1. After the game, West Ham released a statement condemning the behavior of the unruly fans and said they would ban any supporters identified as having thrown trash from attending any further games at London Stadium or traveling with the team.
West Ham captain Declan Rice attempted to ease tensions by approaching the supporters. Rice praised manager David Moyes, calling him one of the greatest in the club's history. Rice also addressed transfer rumors after the game, stating that there is interest from other clubs but he still has two years left on his contract with West Ham, and he loves playing and captaining the club. If it was his last game with West Ham, he would leave as the last captain to lift European silverware since Bobby Moore in 1965.
In the coming days, Arsenal is expected to begin negotiations with West Ham for the transfer of Declan Rice. However, their initial offer is expected to fall short of the £100m asking price that West Ham would want for their star player. Rice has two years remaining on his contract, and sources say that West Ham are not willing to be rushed into agreeing a deal with Arsenal if other buyers emerge in the market. Manchester United is another possible contender, but their ability to commit to major deals is hampered by the ownership situation at the club. Bayern Munich and Manchester City are also said to be interested in Rice.
Despite the controversy, West Ham's victory in the Europa Conference League final was a historic moment for the club and its fans. The team will look to build on this success and continue to compete at the highest level of European football.
Keywords: West Ham, Europa Conference League, fan violence, Cristiano Biraghi, controversy, Declan Rice, transfer rumors, Arsenal, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Manchester City.