A Manchester United fans group has written a letter of complaint to the mayor of Brugge, describing local authorities’ treatment of them as “deplorable” during their Europe League away clash to Club Brugge on Thursday.
United were held 1-1 with Brugge in the round of 32 European tie after striker Anthony Martial netted an equaliser midway through the first half.
In a letter from the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust to Brugge mayor Dirk De fauw on Monday, fans said that they had a “genuine fear for their safety.”
“Many of us who have travelled the world following MUFC are of the opinion that this was the worst experience of a European away game they’d had for many years — and our previous recent visit to Brugge was a low point at the time,” the fans group said.
“The deplorable treatment we were subjected to during our visit to Brugge, by the local police and stewards. It is not an exaggeration to say that many fans were in genuine fear for their safety at times throughout the evening.
“We returned home with an impression of Brugge that should shame all those responsible for our safety and security.”
The letter said that fans were made to walk a long distance to the stadium, including supporters with mobility issues, despite difficult weather conditions. The group also questioned the deployment of a water cannon.
“We have numerous reports that the police instructed taxi drivers to stay away from the ground and not to pick up Manchester United fans,” it added. “It was a long walk in horrendous weather conditions from the town to the stadium.
“We would be embarrassed if visitors to Manchester were treated as described above — are you not ashamed of the way visitors to your city were treated?
“Poor treatment is one issue but the safety concerns go far beyond that and we will be sending a report to UEFA outlining the issues our supporters have sent to us.”
ESPN contacted the mayor’s office for comment and a statement read: “We are surprised by the complaint. Real, Paris Saint-Germain and Galatasaray already visited and there were no problems — this was the first complaint.
“Each match, the same thing happens: the fans meet in the city centre and then go to the stadium. The route is always the same and the fans are guided to the stadium and their seats. Unfortunately, the weather was not so good.
“Always [there is] one water cannon, as well as mounted police. This was not especially for United, but is the same for any European visitors, as well as national team and domestic matches.”
United will host Brugge in the return leg at Old Trafford on Thursday.