Mounted police charge fans after Chelsea defeat

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The Independent Online
Belgian police turned water cannon on football fans and charged them on horseback last night after Chelsea lost their European Cup Winners Cup match with Bruges 1-0.

Meanwhile, a 14-year-old Bruges fan was released from hospital after a knife attack by a Chelsea supporter before the match at the Olympia Stadium on the outskirts of Bruges.

Police said the boy was not seriously injured, but the unnamed Chelsea supporter was being held in custody. The circumstances of the stabbing were unclear but it is understood to have happened after scuffles between rival fans.

Mindful of the events at the recent England-Ireland match in Dublin, Belgian police had adopted an uncompromising attitude and earlier rounded up 1,000 ticketless Chelsea fans near the ground, herded them into groups in handcuffs and took them away.

Throughout the day the police had been turning back suspect British fans. An estimated 500 Chelsea supporters were turned back from Ostend and other points of entry into Belgium in one of the toughest preventive exercises ever carried out in advance of a major European match. The Belgians had been determined that there would be no repeat of the 1985 Heysel Stadium tragedy in Brussels when 39 fans died.

Chelsea supporters said last night that at least 2,000 had been denied entry to the ground, although this figure was not confirmed by police.

Under the spires of Bruges' market squares sporadic brawling had broken out throughout the day. But the police operation was dubbed a success as the match ended with only one serious incident reported.

Match report, page 40

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