UK & World News

  • 23 November 2012, 12:57

Spurs Fan Attacked: Two Charged Over Stabbing

Two Italians have been charged with attempted murder after an attack on Tottenham Hotspur supporters in a Rome pub left one man seriously hurt.

Ashley Mills suffered serious injuries to his skull and thigh. The 25-year-old remained in the San Camillo hospital in Rome for observation, but police said his life was not in danger.

The Spurs fans were drinking in the pub ahead of their team's Europa League match with Lazio when a group of about 50 masked assailants stormed the bar.

Police in Rome are investigating whether anti-Semitism, rather than football rivalry, was behind the attack.

Investigators were quoted in Rome newspaper Il Messaggero as saying that a mixed group of Roma and Lazio "Ultras" - fanatical fans, often with radical political views - might have joined together in the attack.

The two men charged are supporters of Lazio's cross-town rivals, AS Roma. A police spokeswoman said: "They have been charged with attempted murder for involvement in riots and causing serious injury with a knife and are due to appear in court soon."

The hooligans, their faces covered by motorbike helmets and scarves, were armed with knives, baseball bats and knuckle dusters as they stormed The Drunken Ship pub, witnesses and police said.

Witnesses said some of the assailants had shouted "Jews" at the Tottenham fans. The north London team is known for having a large Jewish fan base.

The attack left seven people injured, including an American and a Bangladeshi, and the pub in tatters, its windows broken, chairs and tables overturned, and blood stains on the floor.

Police have named other injured British fans as Dave Lesley, Stephen Tierney and Christopher Allen.

The attack was immediately blamed on Lazio "Ultras", who are known to include far-right extremists and fascist sympathisers.

But Lazio president Claudio Lotito denied hissupporters were responsible. He noted that the attackers' faces were covered, urged authorities not to jump to conclusions and called for a full investigation.

"When it emerges who was really responsible, some people will be surprised," he said in the aftermath of the assault.

Italian reports said police had found baseball bats and knives in the homes of the two suspects who have been charged.

One of the two, who was apprehended at the scene, had talked to the other suspect shortly before the 1am raid, as well as with a notorious Lazio "Ultras" fan, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

There were no reports of violence during the 0-0 draw at the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday night, but some Lazio fans reportedly aimed anti-Semitic chants at Spurs supporters.

UEFA, the European football's governing body, is expected to decide whether Lazio should incur sanctions.

In the reverse fixture at White Hart Lane in September, Lazio fans aimed monkey noises and gestures at black Tottenham players, leading UEFA to fine the club 32,500.

The attack confirms Rome's reputation as a dangerous city for English football fans, with supporters of Manchester United, Middlesbrough and other English teams also involved in violence in recent years.

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