A 23-year-old Maltese man with autism was yesterday kicked out of Wembley Stadium after he complained about people standing in front of his seat.
Darren Abela, from Mellieħa, went to London on his own for the first time to see his favourite football team, Inter, play against the Tottenham Hotspurs, who were at home, for a Champions League match.
Wearing an Inter shirt, Darren excitedly sat down when the match begun. However, soon after the match started, some people stood in front of his seat, blocking his row’s view.
“I was sitting next to the stairs and in front of the block entrance, and people were standing in this area where they are not supposed to,” Darren told Lovin Malta from London the day after his ordeal.
He looked around for some official help from Wembley Stadium, especially after an elderly man sitting next to him complained that he couldn’t see either.
“I yelled across to a steward for assistance, and he came back and claimed I was spitting. He grabbed me, and I told them ‘I have my jacket with my keys on the seat, can I get it at least before I get kicked out?'”
“Their reply?” he continued. “‘No, you’re lucky no police are being involved with the offence you committed.'”
Pictured above: A jubilant Darren Abela, moments before the match started
“I’m physically fine, but mentally I’m livid. I’ve been calling their contact number now but they can’t be reached, and I went to the stadium myself to see if I can get my jacket back.”
Darren broke down outside Wembley Stadium
His brother, Daniel Abela, explained how, while watching the game, he received a call from his younger brother.
“I thought I was going to hear him singing or something when I saw his name on my phone while watching the game. Instead, he was screaming ‘why always me’ while crying… I was in such shock. I was trying to calm him down but what can you say…” he said.
After regaining his composure, Darren called his cousin who lives in London as the keys to his residence where still in his jacket in the stadium
Earlier today, he tried calling the stadium repeatedly to get his jacket back, but they didn’t answer. He then went to Wembley Stadium himself, where he was told to contact the Football Association (FA) to lodge a complaint.
“I was told to contact the FA myself – you can’t contact the FA at the stadium itself, and I’m not sure if the stewards belonged to Tottenham or to Wembley Stadium, so I’ve been told to email the FA,” he said.
His mother was heartbroken to hear what happened to her son while abroad and alone during what should have been a special day
“He was so proud that he was finally going to a game, it was the highlight of his life, and they destroyed it for him. I can’t talk about it because it makes me cry,” she said.
Darren Abela is planning to lodge a formal complaint with the High Commission of Malta in London. The story will be updated as it develops.