England fans have told how they were escorted from the ground following the 3-0 defeat of Cameroon after tensions flared in the crowd.
One group of supporters, who wish to remain anonymous, told the Guardian that a set of Cameroon fans had been allowed to move from their allocated seats and gather near them. Initially the atmosphere was good.
“Cameroon fans next to us were in full voice creating a great atmosphere,” they said. “There were a few issues with the stewards early on because they were in the wrong seats but they continued to sing and cheer.”
Usually the lack of segregation of fans is not a problem in women’s football but, as tensions rose on the pitch, Cameroonian frustration at VAR decisions was reflected in the stands.
“Once the VAR decisions happened, the atmosphere soured off the pitch as much as on the pitch,” reported the England fans. “Some fans became quite aggressive with stewards, one or two pushed stewards and were led out. There was also verbal abuse aimed at anybody in Fifa gear on the pitch at half-time.
“Just as people calmed down, the second-half disallowed goal kicked it all off again. It didn’t help that Fifa kept showing the replays on screen. A couple of people threw cups on to the pitch at one point. We felt safe, just very uncomfortable.
“The aggression and hostility was very much aimed at Fifa but I think not knowing what was going to happen on the pitch and how that could impact the fans was a little nervy. It’s not something we’ve ever experienced before at a game. Security lined the steps between our stand and theirs and officials escorted us out of the stadium through the VIP area.”
Fifa said in a statement: “The post-match debrief highlighted that a number of Cameroon fans had moved to the seats behind the team benches during the match in order to create a ‘fan block’.
“This required management by stadium stewards who, in the interests of all spectators, moved other ticket holders into hospitality seating. Although there was some verbal exchange between Cameroon supporters and stewards, there has been no report of any physical confrontation.”
Fifa is expected to comment further on events around the match, which included Cameroon players twice engulfing the referee and refusing to restart the game following the intervention of VAR.
The president of the women’s football committee at the Confederation of African Football, Isha Johansen, who is president of the Sierra Leone FA, said: “Whilst remaining proud of our African teams that participated in the Fifa Women’s World Cup, yesterday’s match between England and Cameroon reflected badly, not only on African women’s football, but African football on the whole.
“It is an issue which will be addressed and dealt with, at the appropriate levels of governance.”