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Frisk Blames Police For Roma Riots

Soccer 365 | April 5, 2007

Police aggression made a tense situation in Wednesday night's Champions League quarter-final between Manchester United and Roma "catch fire", according to former referee Anders Frisk.

Frisk - who experienced trouble at the Stadio Olimpico first-hand before his retirement in 2005 - believes the police's heavy-handed tactics were largely to blame for the ugly scenes which marred the game.

Trouble flared after rival fans threw missiles and surged towards a barrier separating them and police weighed in to attack United supporters with batons.

Frisk told Sky Sports News: "The approach from the Italian police - my feeling was that they were very close to the United supporters.

"What caused it was something that had been thrown. The Italian police reacted very, very aggressively towards one or two incidents. This is what caused everything to catch fire."

Frisk, who abandoned a game between Roma and Dynamo Kiev in 2004 after being struck by a missile, also claimed that lax security on the way into the ground was another factor.

"When I went through the gates I was not searched at all, and of course if you do not search the people they will bring in bottles and things to throw at each other - that was a major mistake," the Swede added.

UEFA have refused to condemn the actions of the police but have launched an investigation in the events of the evening.

Former England midfielder David Platt believes the aggressive approach of the police has increased since he played in Italy in the early 1990s.

Italian football has been blighted by incidents of crowd disorder in recent years and all grounds were closed earlier this year after the death of a policeman during rioting in Sicily.

Platt, who played for Bari, Juventus and Sampdoria, said: "I think it has escalated. It was always there, there was always an underlying current of it.

"There is not a great deal of respect for law and order out there in many, many ways in terms of the policing and as a result you do get violence - not necessarily between rival sets of fans but invariably it is supporters against the police.

"And the police do get involved and all of a sudden it does become a free for all between the police and rival sets of fans."

Platt added that the police approach was counter-productive, continuing: "But clearly I don't think it is the right way to go about restoring order and I think that is what really we would understand our police were here to do, to restore order and I don't think it was last night.

"I think it was just a case of, 'we are just going to beat you with batons indiscriminately and we don't mind who we hit but that is how we'll restore order, we'll have 10 minutes of violence ourselves'."

The Government are being called on to intervene and a police chief from Middlesbrough, who experienced trouble in Rome last year, has warned there could be a fatality in the future.

Coun Dave McLuckie, chairman of Cleveland Police Authority, travelled with the Middlesbrough supporters who suffered similar problems before a UEFA Cup tie last season.

Coun McLuckie said: "I was astounded and horrified that the Italian authorities have still not got their act together.

"I watched the pictures and the pictures tell no lies: there were some fans who were lying on the floor virtually unconscious and unable to pose any further threat and they were still being beaten by officers.

"It is time for the Government to step in and time for UEFA and FIFA to ban Italian clubs from European competitions and international competitions until they can prove they have got their act in order.

"Somebody is going to be killed before long."

Bolton manager Sam Allardyce was not surprised by the scenes in Italy and believed they could be repeated again in the future.

He said: "It happens in Italy all the time doesn't it with the police?

"I didn't see anything that hasn't happened before, or won't happen again in the future given the way they run things in that country.

"It was incredibly disappointing to see what happened, not from a Manchester United point of view, but as I see it from an Italian police point of view.

"They were dishing out sheer brutality rather than prevention."

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