FAI issue apology for accusing supporters of 'alcohol/substance' abuse in feedback letter

FAI issue apology for accusing supporters of 'alcohol/substance' abuse in feedback letter

The Football Association of Ireland has issued an apology to supporters today for stating that "excessive alcohol or substance use" was one of the reasons for fans having difficulties getting into the Ireland vs. Netherlands game in Amsterdam for last year’s European qualifier.

Fans involved in the incidents contacted the FAI’s ticket office and their customer relations department to address the issue at hand. Poor signage, unclear directions from stadium staff and security, delays in scanning tickets, and even danger from an unsuitable and improperly lit access point were highlighted. Supporters at the game also reported being stuck in massive queues trying to get into the Johan Cruyff Arena.

A letter on social media from one fan at the game was shared about the feedback. A report from the KNVB, the FAI Fan Liaison Officer, and the Safety and Security team claimed there were a number of reasons for the delay, centred around issues such as "excessive alcohol or substance use" and fans not having legitimate tickets for the tie.

"I hope you are keeping well," read the letter on X.

"Many thanks for the email and sincere apologies for the delayed response in relation to the concerns you raised regarding the Netherlands away in November.

"I previously shared a copy of your email with our safety and security team, who were on site in Amsterdam on the evening of the game.

"I have now received post-match reports from KNVB, the FAI Fan Liaison Officer, and the Safety and Security team.

"I’ve summarised some of the key points raised below.

Access Management

"Several supporters tried to get in without a valid ticket, i.e., two supporters on one ticket.

"In addition, several supporters had issues with ticket scanning—people were unable to locate their ticket on their phone or tickets already scanned in.

"This also seemed to be exacerbated in some instances by excessive alcohol or substance intake. Many supporters presented in a concerning manner, with some unable to operate their phones to access tickets.

"Late arrivals: 2 minutes before kick-off, there were only 1,300 of our supporters in the stadium. This equated to 50% of the number of tickets we sold."

Today, the FAI apologised to fans for claiming that factors like alcohol and substance abuse were deciding factors in fans not getting into the ground.

"The Football Association of Ireland would like to apologise for a response sent to a small number of supporters on issues faced by our fans in the UEFA EURO 2024 qualifier against the Netherlands at the Amsterdam Arena last November,"they said in a press release.

"The email referenced elements of feedback from the night, with a number of sections of the feedback contested, in particular relating to alleged fan behaviour.

"There were a number of issues accessing the stadium, which the FAI highlighted to the KNVB, with many supporters delayed gaining entry ahead of kick-off. Information was gathered following interactions with the KNVB and insight from our Supporter Liaison Officer, with the findings outlining multiple reasons for the issues that occurred before the game. This included a thorough, but as a result, slow security search on entry, a lack of clear signage, issues with access, as well as complications with ticket scanning."

The FAI has now claimed that they will work with UEFA to ensure something like this doesn't happen in future fixtures. They ended the email with a second apology to supporters and remarked on how well-behaved fans were during the game.

"The FAI has expressed disappointment in how certain aspects of the match-day operation affected the Irish supporters, and the FAI will continue to work with UEFA and opposing nations ahead of all upcoming away fixtures to ensure the safety of our supporters and to provide all the support we can.

"The FAI would like to apologise for any offence caused to our supporters regarding the response in question but also wants to stress, once again, the excellent behaviour and patience of our supporters during this game and our away games in general."

Letter sent to members of the media (FAI)