Four officers injured, 46 arrested in clashes before Aston Villa-Warsaw game

A total of 46 arrests have been made and four police officers injured following violence outside Villa Park before Aston Villa's Europa Conference League tie with Legia Warsaw on Thursday, West Midlands Police have said.

Police were hit with missiles from fans, videos posted to social media showed.

Aston Villa said they have lodged a complaint with UEFA over the conduct of Legia Warsaw.

West Midlands Police said one officer's jacket caught fire after they were hit with a flare and, although the jacket was removed quickly, the officer was later taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation. A horse and police dog were also injured.

West Midlands Police said in a statement on social media on Friday: "We've now got 46 people in custody following last night's violence involving away fans outside Villa Park. Officers faced 90 minutes of sustained violence, and four were injured. We're proud of our officers, and thank #AVFC fans for their support.

Police added that all the arrests made were away fans, the majority for "violent disorder," with four also arrested for "possession of a knife/offensive weapon" and four for "assaulting emergency workers."

Legia Warsaw said Aston Villa had given the Polish club a lower allocation of tickets than they were entitled to under UEFA regulations.

Police denied entry to travelling fans after the unrest occurred, leaving the away stand empty. Aston Villa won the match 2-1.

"Aston Villa can confirm it has lodged an official complaint with UEFA over the conduct of Legia Warsaw Football Club and the behaviour of their supporters prior to last night's UEFA Europa Conference League match at Villa Park," Villa said in a statement.

"The lack of cooperation and prevarication from Legia Warsaw officials prior to the match was entirely unacceptable and deeply disappointing," said Chris Heck, president of business operations at Aston Villa.

"This behaviour increased the danger that West Midlands Police officers and our own fans were subjected to before the game and the scenes of disorder from the Legia fans have no place in modern football or civilised society."

"Instead of defusing potential pre-match tensions, Aston Villa F.C.'s restrictive measures as the host club unnecessarily exacerbate the atmosphere. In our view, such measures are counterproductive and unwarranted," Legia Warsaw said in a translated statement.

However, Aston Villa said they raised the matter with Polish club ahead of the event but did not receive any cooperation with efforts to ensure fan safety.

Villa said in a statement: "In spite of numerous requests for cooperation from Legia Warsaw concerning their travelling supporters, especially in the last two days, no assistance on the serious safety matter of away fans attending Villa Park was forthcoming from the visiting club. The club has repeatedly, including this morning, raised concerns in conjunction with UEFA and all the relevant authorities to Legia that ticketless away supporters were attempting to attend Villa Park.

"Approximately an hour before kick-off, Legia fans engaged in planned and systematic violent acts against West Midlands Police officers and a decision was then made by West Midlands Police to exclude all Legia supporters.

"Aston Villa strongly condemns the behaviour of those visiting supporters and would like to thank West Midlands Police for their professionalism in very difficult circumstances."

The Mayor of West Midlands, Andy Street, said he hopes UEFA "will now move swiftly to take strong action."

UEFA told ESPN in a statement on Friday: "UEFA strongly condemns the unacceptable violence which occurred around the Aston Villa v Legia Warsaw match.

"UEFA is in the process of gathering all official reports from the game before deciding on potential next steps."

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.