Trouble flares in Italy as English fans attacked

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Arsenal’s Champions League victory in Rome last night was marred by reports from Italy that a number of away fans had been attacked by the home team’s support. The story follows depressingly similar lines to previous ones on English fans in Italy. In recent years Manchester United and Middlesbrough fans have been attacked while two Chelsea supporters were reportedly stabbed in Turin on Tuesday.

Early evidence suggests two Arsenal supporters were injured before yesterday’s game when their coach was attacked by Roma fans, one of the travelling supporters was stabbed in the leg. The coach came under fire from stones and flares and Roma supporters managed to force themselves onto the vehicle.

In addition Arsenal and the Metropolitan Police, who sent officers to Rome, revealed that two more fans sustained head injuries in the incident which will do little to allay English fans' fears of trips to the Stadio Olimpico and Italy in general.

“This is not the first time incidents like these have happened in Rome or Italy and it’s extremely worrying. We’ve heard reports from yesterday of fans being stabbed, the stadium being over capacity in certain sections as well as overtly aggressive policing and stewarding,” said Steve Powell, Arsenal supporter, and director of campaigns and policy at the FSF.

“We call on Uefa to take urgent action in order to protect travelling fans in Italy, and particularly in Rome, a city it looks increasingly likely at least one English team will have to visit for the Champions League final.”

Mark Longden, FSF National Council and IMUSA member, said: “There have been too many incidents to recount in Italy over the past decade, it's disgraceful.

“You have to ask, what would the authorities response be if these incidents were turned on their head? In recent years English clubs have had to give constant safety warnings to travelling fans. Imagine the outcry if Italian clubs had to do the same for their fans visiting England?”

The FSF is currently pulling together a dossier of Arsenal and Chelsea fans’ experiences in both Rome and Turin to take to the authorities and would encourage travelling supporters to email the FSF with their experiences.