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West Ham fans are banned from Freiburg away after this…

After a winning start in Group A, West Ham fans will feel confident ahead of their first UEFA Europa League away trip since the 2021/22 semi-final, where they were defeated 3-1 by Eintracht Frankfurt on aggregate.

David Moyes' side triumphed 3-1 over TSC Backa Topla at the London Stadium and now travel to the Europa-Park Stadion to take on German side SC Freiburg. The Hammers will hope to fare better against this German opposition than in their most recent season in the competition.

However, things have changed since their semi-final loss at Frankfurt. Moyes guided the Irons to glory in the UEFA Europa Conference League last year, beating Fiorentina on an historic night in Prague.

In a small twist of fate, Freiburg's last game in the Bundesliga came against Eintracht Frankfurt. They played out a 0-0 draw.

Meanwhile, as West Ham beat Serbian opposition in their opening Group A game, Freiburg disposed of Greek side Olympiacos, winning an entertaining game 3-2 at the Karaiskakis Stadium.

But for this exciting meeting, the first between West Ham and Freiburg, no away fans will be present in the Europa-Park Stadion. Why? Football Ground Guide is here to explain it all…

Why are West Ham fans banned from Freiburg away?

West Ham were issued with £50,000 fine and a a European ban for their first two fixtures away from home, with the second away game suspended, due to the behaviour of a minority of supporters during May's UEFA Europa Conference League Final.

It isn't a ban from the Europa-Park Stadion alone, then, but a full European away ban. It was put in place prior to the UEFA Europa League draw was made, and it just so happens that West Ham's first away game in Europe this season is in Germany. The Irons are clear to travel to Serbia and Greece in the other two away games in Group A.

Few West Ham fans will forget the Europa Conference League win against Fiorentina at the Eden Arena, Prague, but some will want to forget the scenes that took place in the first half when Fiorentina skipper Cristiano Biraghi was struck with an object thrown by West Ham supporters.

West Ham fans are banned from Freiburg away in the UEFA Europa League
Cristiano Biraghi of Fiorentina gestures to West Ham United fans after being hit by an object during the UEFA Europa Conference League Final between ACF Fiorentina and West Ham United at Eden Arena, Prague | Photo by Icon Sport
West Ham fans are banned from Freiburg away after events at last season's UEFA Europa Conference League final
Fiorentina's Cristiano Biraghi receiving treatment | Photo by Icon Sport

It was an unfortunate incident and one condemned by the majority of West Ham fans, the club and, of course, UEFA, who had no choice but to punish the London club. It is disappointing, as West Ham fans always bring colour, noise and atmosphere to the occasion anytime they play away.

The punishment in full was two game away ban and a £50,000 fine, with the second game being suspended for two years. That means if West Ham fans cause any trouble in the next two years in a European competition, this ban will be activated immediately.

It is a shame that this is the fixture that West Ham fans will miss out on for various reasons. Firstly, it is the closest away fixture in their group, with the other two being in Serbia and Greece respectively. A trip to Germany would not have cost as much and would have been easily accessible to a lot of West Ham fans.

Secondly, the Europa-Park Stadion is a fantastic stadium to visit and watch a football match in, with the stadium having plenty of attributes that any world-class stadium would have.

What will the West Ham fans will be missing at the Europa-Park Stadion

SC Freiburg Stadium | Europa-Park Stadion | Full guide including away fans, directions, parking, train, bus, cycling, stadium tours, tickets and history
Photo by Icon Sport

The modern Europa-Park Stadion is one of the most recently built grounds in Germany, with all the updated facilities you'd expect as a result. The total cost of the venue, upon its completion in 2021, was €76.5 million and it's seen as much more than just a stadium for SC Freiburg, with a vision to make the modern structure a part of the community, after moving from their previous long-held home of the Dreisamstadion.

One of the main things that stands out about the new stadium is the view from outside, which really makes this structure stand out. A lot of thought went into the architectural appearance of the new stadium when the club first considered building a new home and the finished product did not disappoint.

It's just as impressive from the inside. Its compactness keeps the atmosphere electric, if the fans provide it, while the steep stands close to the pitch make it an intimidating venue for away teams.

The south stand is where the SC Freiburg ultras can be found and it is the only single-tier stand in the new stadium. It can hold up to 8,000 people. Without an away presence, they are sure to be heard. West Ham fans will be wishing from afar that their team can keep them quiet with a big performance on the pitch.

Another little perk of the Europa-Park Stadion is that it uses one of the world’s largest solar roofs in a football stadium, having installed a 2.4 megawatt system in the ground.

Where can West Ham fans watch the game

For West Ham fans in the UK, TNT Sports will show the game as the official broadcaster of the UEFA Europa League for the 2023/24 season.

For those wanting to watch it with fans, as they would in Germany, head to a pub in East London. Most will be showing it. Alternatively, West Ham TV are hosting a fan's night in attended by former Hammer James Collins. The event is at the Brew Dog Upminster Pub in Upminster.

 

If you are a West Ham fan based in the Republic of Ireland, broadcaster, Virgin Media has you covered and is showing the game live, including highlights of other games taking place in the Europa League and Europa Conference League. CBS are showing the game for US-based supporters.


Philip O'Rourke

Philip O Rourke is a Dublin-based journalist and author of Forgotten Football Clubs, 50 Clubs Around the World. He appears on the Forgotten Football Clubs podcast and, in his spare time, travels around Europe to different football stadiums, trying to watch as many different clubs as he can.

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