Gullit blames fans for Feyenoord’s downfall

ROTTERDAM: Coach Ruud Gullit has blamed some of Feyenoord’s own fans for contributing to the team’s UEFA Cup defeat against Sporting Lisbon after Thursday’s tie was twice halted by crowd trouble. 

“It was very difficult for me and my players to focus on the match again after the incidents,” Gullit told reporters. “When we got in the dressing room after the suspension everyone was very quiet. Today we didn’t just lose because we played a better opponent, but also because of a part of our own crowd.” 

The Rotterdam game, won 2-1 by Sporting to go through to the last 16 4-2 on aggregate, was halted for five minutes following a first-half incident involving Sporting keeper Ricardo after a firework was thrown from the crowd. 

German referee Florian Meyer then led the teams off for 20 minutes in the second half after Rui Jorge was hit by an object thrown from the stands as the away team celebrated Liedson’s 62nd minute opening goal. 

Feyenoord officials said they were awaiting a reaction from UEFA but tried to play down the incidents. 

General manager Jan Willem van Dop told Reuters: “It is tough to estimate how UEFA will react but we should not over-react. 

“According to TV pictures, it was obvious that the fireworks exploded six metres from goalkeeper Ricardo and that a Sporting player provoked the crowd with a gesture after the opening goal, so there was a lot of theatre involved in both situations. 

“We will try to find the perpetrators and punish them and we apologised to Sporting’s board members ... they didn’t blame us for the incidents. They were acts of individuals.” 

Feyenoord won the UEFA Cup in 2002. – Reuters 

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