Prior to West Ham’s clash with Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League semi-finals, you’ll be aware we covered the Hammers’ efforts to control German fans coming to the game.
Basically, West Ham were determined to avoid there being a repeat of what happened at Barcelona, where Frankfurt fans completely took over the Camp Nou and got around 30,000 fans into the stadium rather than their allotted 5,000.
It proved to be a massive scandal and handed the Germans a huge advantage, something they used to secure an unlikely victory and progression to the last four.
West Ham were keen to avoid that so put all sorts of rules in place to stop a repeat, something Frankfurt weren’t too happy about.
It was a plan that largely worked, although it appears they were thwarted by one of their own players; Nikola Vlasic.
BILD explain that Frankfurt were given 3000 tickets for the game, but around 200 extra fans managed to make it into the stands.
Once again, they were ‘very creative’ in their efforts to get to the game, and for a family from Schwanheim near Frankfurt that saw them use their connections to a West Ham player.
The newspaper explains they ‘smuggled themselves in undercover’ as West Ham fans, even going as far as to buy jackets, scarves and West Ham shirts as camouflage.
“We paid around 65 pounds (about 77 euros) per person. We had our Croatian national player Vlasic flocked onto the jersey. That even fits then,” one of the party, Dario, explained.
It was thanks to a ‘three-cornered connection’ to the West Ham player and compatriot that they got the tickets, although they came with one caveat ‘don’t be recognisable as an Eintracht fan’.
That worked for the most part, with the West Ham fans who noticed them speaking German batted away by claims they were Croatian.
After the final whistle, their ‘cover was blown’, and they celebrated the 2-1 win with the away fans, although at that point, nobody cared.
Whether West Ham officials will, though, remains to be seen, they worked hard to avoid this kind of thing happening and seem to have been circumvented by one of their own players.
Now BILD do say it wasn’t done through Vlasic directly and suggest it was more people connected to him than the player himself. Still, a frustrating issue for the Hammers, who may be having one or two stern words with the midfielder when they find out.