10,000 Italian police wait for United fans

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The Independent Online

A security operation involving 10,000 Italian police officers is underway as Rome prepares for the arrival of 50,000 football fans ahead of tonight's Champions League Final between Manchester United and Barcelona.

More than 30,000 United fans have made the trip to Italy, despite the club only being allocated 19,500 tickets.

This evening's final comes two weeks after rioting in Rome following the local side Lazio's domestic cup triumph. The authorities fear that fans of the city's other team, Roma, whose notorious hooligans are known as the Ultras, will cause trouble. Violence flared between the Ultras and United fans on the last two occasions the English side visited the city. A ban restricting the sale of alcohol in central Rome has been enforced. Rome's Mayor, Gianni Alemanno, said: "Rome welcomes the British fans with open arms, and we look forward to celebrating this sporting festival together," he said.

But the Foreign Office warned Manchester United fans to stay away from known trouble spots. Duncan Drasdo, the chief executive of the Manchester United Supporters' Trust, said: "My experience of the Italian police, particularly in Rome, is pretty poor."

Italian officers will be able to call on the assistance of British counterparts.