testFor the first time in history KAA Gent became champions in the Belgian first League. The club and the Buffalo supporters were excited to go to the Champions League. They welcomed the supporters from Lyon in Ghent and both supporters groups had a sporting and exciting day. They travelled to St Petersburg and both supporters groups had a sporting and exciting day.

The away game in Valencia was different. Very different. Valencia CF provided KAA Gent supporters with all the information they needed and the SLO’s of both teams exchanged information in favour of the supporters. Everything was arranged to have a good time and sporting rivalry during the game. Buffalo supporters have the reputation to follow their team fanatically, but also to cause no problems at all.

Nevertheless, before the game, the Spanish National Police showed up at the square where Gent fans were supposed to gather. They showed up, fully armed and supported by cavalry troops on horses. They closed down the only way out and forced a peaceful, partying crowd into a bottleneck. Those trying to communicate with them were pushed back. The elderly, pregnant women or children all among them… they were treated as if they were a threat to national security. It was a miracle that only one of the supporters reacted agitated. He got arrested

After the game, the supporters had to stay inside the stands. This is quite common at European matches. So far, so OK. It was raining hard and some of them asked if they were allowed to stay in the concourse instead of outside. Without any further advance notice, national police forces subsequently entered the stands and started to provoke the supporters in the most aggressive way imaginable, according to numerous eye witness reports. Shortly before that, the stewards of KAA Gent were ordered to leave the stands. People were pushed, as if they hoped for a reaction. As the only reaction was cynical applause, the atmosphere turned even more aggressive – from the side of the national police. People were beaten for no reason at all. Yet, none of them started to riot.
Appalled by the events in Spain, the General Manager of KAA Gent, the head of the Ghent police and the mayor of Ghent joined forces with the Supportersfederatie Ghent and sent an official complaint about the violation of civil rights and personal integrity of the KAA Gent fans to the General Director of the Spanish National Police in Madrid, the Head of International Cooperation of the Spanish National Police in Madrid and the Spanish National Police in Valencia. UEFA, the Council of Europe and others were sent copies.

The letter of complaint also included the recommendations for international police cooperation and measures to prevent and control violence and disturbances in connection with football matches with an international dimension, approved with an EU Council Resolution in 2010 already (OJ C 165, 24/06/2010). Most of the basic provisions in these European guidelines were apparently violated by the Spanish police on that matchday.

Many supporters regularly tell us that these kind of experiences are normal in football in Spain. KAA Gent fans believe that supporters have to stand up against any abuse of violence. “It is a miracle that no one reacted aggressively in this situation, which would have been perfectly understandable. But we don’t accept to be treated like animals. If this happens to us, it also happens to others and we have to do something to stop it.” Said Dirk Vos, SLO of KAA Gent and member of the FSE Committee. “Nevertheless, Valencia fans are welcome in our open minded city for the return game. We will show how things can be done differently.”

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