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How Are UEFA "Shocked" By Yet Another Attack By Roma Fans?

How Are UEFA "Shocked" By Yet Another Attack By Roma Fans?
Gavin Cooney
By Gavin Cooney
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A Liverpool fan from Ireland is fighting for his life today, following an assault by Roma supporters outside The Albert pub ahead of last night's Champions League semi-final. Two men from Rome have been arrested by Merseyside Police on suspicion of attempted murder.

In response, statements have flurried from respective parties. Liverpool issued a statement last night to say they are "shocked" and appalled" by the incident. "Liverpool Football Club is shocked and appalled after a Liverpool supporter was left in a critical condition having been attacked prior to the Champions League fixture against AS Roma. Our thoughts, in the first instance, are with the victim and his family at this very traumatic time. We will be offering them our full support. The club has been liaising with the emergency services since the incident occurred and will continue to do so. Liverpool FC directs supporters and those in attendance at the game to Merseyside Police’s appeal for information".

Roma also issued a statement, theirs coming this morning. "AS Roma condemns in the strongest possible terms the abhorrent behaviour of a small minority of travelling fans who brought shame on the club and the vast majority of Roma’s well-behaved supporters at Anfield after getting involved in clashes with Liverpool supporters before last night’s fixture. There is no place for this type of vile behaviour in football and the club is now cooperating with Liverpool Football Club, UEFA, and the authorities. The club’s thoughts and prayers are with the 53-year-old Liverpool fan in the hospital and his family at this time".

UEFA, meanwhile, say that they are "deeply shocked" by what they deem as a "vile attack".

Uefa is deeply shocked by the vile attack that occurred ahead of Liverpool FC v AS Roma and our thoughts are with the victim and his family. The perpetrators of this ignominious attack have no place in football and we trust they will be dealt with utmost severity by the authorities. Uefa is waiting to receive full reports before deciding on potential disciplinary charges.

That is mostly fair from the European governing body, aside from two words. Deeply shocked? The incident is shocking in the sense that all mindless acts of violence are, and "deeply shocked" is a bromide most reach for in these awful scenarios when words are elusive. But if UEFA are really surprised by this incident, then they are unfit for governance.

The reality is that most of Roma's games with English teams over the last 17 years have been marred with similar fan violence. You would imagine that at some point over the last 17 years UEFA's shock should subside and become manifest in punishment.


In 2001, six Liverpool fans were stabbed around a UEFA Cup tie in Rome.

In 2006, three Middlesbrough fans were stabbed in the same city when attending a UEFA Cup tie.

A year later, five Manchester United fans were stabbed before a Champions League group game.


In 2009, a bus of Arsenal supporters was ambushed by Roma fans - they smashed the windows, stopped the bus, and one fan got on board and stabbed an English fan. Two months later, the Stadio Olimpico held the Champions League final.

In 2012, a Spurs fan received treatment for stab wounds following an assault by Roma fans.

And last year, Chelsea fans drinking in an Irish bar were attacked by masked Roma fans wielding metal bars.


At some point, UEFA need to stop being "shocked" by these incidents and start doing something about it.

They have been quick to sanction the club and others over in-stadia violence in the past. In 2004, following the abandonment of a Champions League game between Roma and Dynamo Kiev at the Stadio Olimpico after referee Anders Frisk was struck by a coin from the stands, Roma were ordered to play their next two games behind closed doors.

They fined Roma and Manchester United for crowd trouble during a Champions League quarter-final in 2007, and have handed out harsher punishments elsewhere. Rivals and co-tenants of the Stadio Olimpico Lazio, for example, were ordered to play two games behind closed doors in 2013 after crowd trouble against Borussia Monchengladbach while Lyon and Besiktas were given suspended two-year bans last year following violence in the ground ahead of a Europa League tie.


While UEFA may say that violence outside of stadia is the responsibility of the local police, they have to realise that this violence is being committed in the name of competitions they run and have an important role to play in stamping it out. They have already charged Liverpool over the objects thrown at Manchester City bus in the quarter-final, and their threat of punishment helped to motivate Liverpool into deploying Jurgen Klopp to request the scenes were not repeated. They weren't.

UEFA may rightly say that these acts of violence by Roma fans are conducted by a handful of barbarous men outside of their control, but they have ignored a consistent problem for too long. In fact, rather than punish the club and the city over a series of stabbings, they rewarded Rome with the Champions League final in 2009.

Liverpool fans will travel to one of the world's most famous and historic cities next week for a football match and they will be worried for their safety.


How is that a football governing body doing their job?


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