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By ESPN Staff

FA condemn Upton Park violence

Investigations have been launched into the violence which marred Wednesday night's Carling Cup tie between West Ham and Millwall at Upton Park.

One man was stabbed as troubled flared outside the ground while there were also three pitch invasions during a highly-charged contest.

The Football Association this morning launched an investigation while both clubs have also pledged to conduct their own inquiries and ban any individuals they can identify.

These will run alongside police investigations and all bodies will co-operate with each other in a bid to ensure the matter is thoroughly dealt with.

"We have to make sure that the individuals concerned face such tough actions that they can't go to football again,'' said FA director of communications Adrian Bevington.

"We all want a big atmosphere at matches, that's part of football, part of the passion. However, we also want to make sure it's a safe environment to watch games and we've just spent the best part of 20 years working towards that.''

Video footage, photographic evidence and witness statements are being collated to identify those responsible for the ugly scenes.

Violence took place in the area surrounding the stadium prior to kick-off, with fighting between rivals fans and the police.

Officers were later forced to use batons to quell further disturbances inside the ground.

West Ham chief executive Scott Duxbury said: "This is a family club and the Boleyn Ground has always been a safe place in which all supporters can enjoy football.

"We are determined to ensure this remains the case.

"Everyone at the club is shocked and appalled at what happened and we will leave no stone unturned in identifying the perpetrators, rooting them out and then taking the proper action from both the police point of view and the club's.''

Millwall have also condemned all supporters involved in the violence but would also like any investigation to cover the planning of what was always likely to be a powderkeg occasion between fierce rivals.

The Lions were unhappy at only being allocated 2,300 seats and there were fears ticketless fans would travel across London regardless.

A statement from Millwall read: "Any Millwall supporter identified as being involved in criminal activity relating to the events of August 25 will receive an indefinite ban from the club.

"At the same time, we would like to thank the vast majority of the 2,300 Lions fans at the ground for supporting the team in the appropriate manner. We trust that all aspects of planning and preparation for this match will be thoroughly investigated.

"We will assist fully the FA and other relevant authorities with their ongoing inquiries.''

Expressions of disgust over the events of last night have been widespread.

Sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe said: "The scenes last night were a disgrace to football.

"I completely back the FA's call for any person identified as involved in the violence to be banned for life and urge full and swift co-operation from all parties in the investigation into what happened.

"We have made great progress in the past 20 years in tackling football hooliganism in this country and we will not tolerate any return to the dark days of the 70s and 80s when it plagued the game.

"We will never be complacent in the fight against football violence.''

Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt added: "Identifying the culprits and banning them for life is only the first step.

"Wider questions need to be answered as to how the situation was allowed to get out of hand in the first place.

"As the (World Cup) bidding process for 2018 continues we must take action to assure the world that we are doing everything possible to ensure things like this won't happen again.''

The Carling Cup is run by the Football League and their chief operating officer Andy Williamson said: "We utterly deplore the violence that took place at last night's match between West Ham United and Millwall.

"Football has made huge progress in the last 30 years in the management of football matches and the whole game must continue to demonstrate that such behaviour will not be tolerated.''

Football Supporters Federation chairman Malcolm Clarke said: "I can assure you the vast majority of Millwall and West Ham supporters will be as horrified by events that occurred as everybody else.

"There clearly needs to be a very clear response to try to make sure this doesn't happen again.''

A spokesman for England's 2018 World Cup bid said: "It is extremely disappointing that the mindless actions of a tiny minority have today deflected from the passion and dedication that millions of genuine fans show every week for our national game.''


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