Around The World: Netherlands - Riot forces Dutch rethink

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The Independent Online
THE CITY of Rotterdam was yesterday coming to terms with the latest outbreak of serious football hooliganism in the Netherlands. Shots were fired as fans celebrating Feyenoord's success in sealing the Dutch title clashed with police on Sunday night.

Four people were injured when police opened fire on a band of hooligans on the fringes of a huge street party attended by about 200,000 people in Rotterdam city centre. Thugs threw bottles, stones and other projectiles. In the ensuing riots, shop and office windows were smashed and there was large-scale looting. Altogether 16 people were injured, including four police officers, police sources said.

Around 300 riot police were called in to try to control a group of about 150 troublemakers. After firing warning pistol shots into the air, cornered local police aimed directly at the crowd. Around 80 people were arrested.

The Dutch interior minister, Bram Peper, called for the urgent adoption of a draft law currently being studied by parliament which would allow police to detain suspected hooligans prior to matches considered at risk.

"I never saw anything so terrible," Peper, a former mayor of Rotterdam, said. "It's frightening to see the police harassed like that and forced to take out arms. The world has turned upside down."

With a year to go before the European Championship, to be co-hosted by the Netherlands and Belgium, European football's governing body declined to get involved. "This concerns the Dutch football federation and the police of that country. We do not have to get involved in what happens outside a football stadium," a Uefa spokesman said. He stressed that Sunday's violence would not in any way interfere with the Netherlands co-hosting the tournament.