Manchester United fans warned of dangers of Rome
Foreign Office gives guidance on what to expect in ‘Stab City’ for next week’s Champions League final against Barcelona
Manchester United supporters heading to Rome for next week's Champions League final against Barcelona have been warned by the Foreign Office of the dangers of 'Stab City'. In recent years fans of English teams visiting the Italian capital have been targeted by Ultras hooligans who support AS Roma.
The worry for Italian authorities is that more than 10,000 Man United fans could travel to the game without tickets, putting themselves at risk of attack as they scour the streets of the city trying to buy them from touts. Many are planning on going over to watch the match on giant screens being erected outside the Stadio Olimpico.
Thousands of tickets are already being touted on the internet, and Italian police have the added headache of maintaining segregation within the stadium, as Man Utd fans are able to buy seats in the Barcelona area. Although the Catalan club has a largely peaceful following, police in the Spanish city fired tear gas at the weekend at fans celebrating their team winning La Liga, injuring 50 and arresting 65 people.
Rome is preparing to shut down for the game, with many streets being closed off and the entire city becoming an alcohol-free zone for the final. The problem for British fans is that their reputation from the 1980s means that many Italians - including the police - still see them as hooligans and troublemakers and act accordingly. During a recent Champions League tie with Roma, Manchester United fans were beaten, without provocation they claimed, by Italian riot police.
Fans groups are hoping that the empathy and respect between the rival sets of supporters will ensure that there will be no clashes within the stadium, but outside on the streets of Rome no one knows where the biggest threat will come from.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
The Times: "Ever since Rome was announced by Uefa as the host city for Europe’s most prestigious club match, fears have abounded that the appearance of an English team could spark trouble. Uefa, European football’s governing body, dismissed pleas to change the venue, saying it was too late to alter the complex arrangements for the final. Gianni Alemanno, the Mayor of Rome, admitted yesterday: 'The day of the Champions League final will be very delicate. We are working alongside the police to study the best ways to keep disruption to a minimum, while keeping security tight.'" ·
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