Feyenoord tries to distance itself from hooligans at UEFA Cup tie

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The Independent Football

Feyenoord warned French authorities that its fans who rioted at the UEFA Cup match against Nancy were traveling to France despite being banned from Dutch stadiums.

"We did everything we could to prevent problems. We knew every supporter who bought a ticket via the club," Feyenoord director Otto Jacobs said Friday on the club's Web site.

Feyenoord hooligans fought and smashed windows in the town of Nancy before ripping out and throwing seats during Thursday night's match. Police used tear gas, forcing the referee to halt the match in the 80th minute because it was affecting the players.

The players returned to the field some 20 minutes later and Nancy won 3-0.

Five Dutch fans detained during the melee remained in French police custody in Nancy. Police said they were expected to appear before prosecutors later Friday.

Feyenoord said it warned French authorities that known hooligans had bought tickets in Nancy because they were barred from buying official tickets through the Rotterdam club.

Jacobs appealed to the Dutch government to introduce legislation that would force hooligans to report regularly to law enforcement authorities - a move designed to ensure they do not travel to matches.

"We need a football law," Jacobs said. "There are hooligans walking around (Nancy) who have 20-year bans for all Dutch stadiums. That could have been prevented with a reporting obligation."

French Interior Minister and presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy promised punishment "with the greatest force" for those responsible, saying soccer must not be "poisoned with the behavior of savages."

Sarkozy said he was waiting for the results of an official investigation before commenting on allegations that a regional prefect had knowingly allowed violent fans into the stadium.

Feyenoord coach Erwin Koeman said a small minority had ruined the match for law-abiding fans.

"Ninety-five percent of the fans came to support us. They came all the way here to cheer us on," Koeman said on the club's Web site. "Five percent wanted to make trouble. Well, they succeeded.

"The worst thing is that I had expected this. We knew that a number of people with stadium bans had bought tickets not through Feyenoord, which gave me a bad feeling. This is terrible - I felt so powerless."

Feyenoord striker Pierre van Hooijdonk said a possible UEFA ban for the club may mean he never plays another European match. Van Hooijdonk has said this will be his final season before retiring.

"I may have played the last European Cup tie of my career," he said. "I'm not sentimental, but it hurts that it has to end this way. This is a disaster for the club. We're facing a serious punishment. In these miserable times that is a bad outlook."

Goalkeeper Henk Timmer, who had to have an injection to relieve the symptoms of tear gas before the match was resumed in a near empty stadium, said the rioting was not only bad for the club.

"Feyenoord has so many great fans," he said. "It is such a shame that they have to suffer because of the actions of a small group. That's the worst thing about this: it is not good for the team, it is not good for the club and it is not good for Dutch soccer."