Halt football matches if fans at risk, says coroner

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The Independent Online

A coroner has called for international football matches to be halted unless police in both countries are satisfied that adequate precautions have been taken to protect fans.

David Hinchliff, a coroner in West Yorkshire, yesterday also criticised Turkish police for their handling of violent clashes that resulted in the deaths of two British fans when Leeds United travelled to Istanbul. Kevin Speight and Christopher Loftus died from stab wounds received during fighting between fans before a Uefa Cup match against Galatasaray in April 2000.

Mr Hinchliff, who returned verdicts of unlawful killing at the inquests into their deaths, said: "The police gave the impression they were targeting the Leeds supporters. Many were struck with batons, many were taken to the police station notwithstanding the fact that they were injured and needed hospital treatment."

He described the police, who refused to co-operate with West Yorkshire officers, as "disorganised, uncoordinated, not in control of the situation and ill-prepared.