Bolton protest over violence of Spanish policing

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The Independent Football

Bolton have lodged an official complaint with Uefa at what they have branded the "overzealous and disproportionate" treatment of their fans by Spanish police at Thursday night's Uefa Cup match at Atletico Madrid.

In a statement issued by the Premier League club yesterday morning, it is claimed supporters were subjected to "a number of assaults and unprovoked baton charges before, during, and after the game" at Vicente Calderon, which ended in a goalless draw that sent the Trotters through to the last 16.

The alleged behaviour of the police has prompted the club to take action, and they will liaise with Greater Manchester Police and the British Embassy in a bid to establish the precise course of events.

Bolton chairman Phil Gartside has vowed to take the issue to the "highest level" in pursuit of an explanation. "I have great sympathy for any of our supporters who have been injured by what is clearly an overreaction by the Spanish police," he said. "Our fans gave us magnificent support on the night and this has taken the shine off what has been a momentous evening in the club's history.

"Bolton Wanderers Football Club will be pursuing the matter at the highest level and seeking an explanation from the Spanish authorities. We will also be conducting our own internal investigation and information-gathering process."

The statement issued by the club read: "The directors of Bolton Wanderers Football Club are upset and disturbed at the apparent overzealous and disproportionate actions of the Spanish police towards our supporters during Thursday night's Uefa Cup return-leg at Atletico Madrid.

"The club's fans were subjected to a number of assaults and unprovoked baton charges before, during, and after the game, in addition to the aggressive use of police horses to manoeuvre fans towards the Vicente Calderon stadium.

"Bolton Wanderers has launched an official protest with Uefa and its security delegates, who witnessed the behaviour of the local police force, and the club is currently in liaison with the Greater Manchester Police and the British Embassy to ascertain further information.

"Bolton Wanderers supporters have an impeccable reputation and an excellent record of good behaviour when travelling abroad to European matches, and the club believes the actions of the Madrid police are entirely unacceptable."

The allegedly heavy-handed treatment of Bolton's fans marred a night on which they progressed to the last 16 of the Uefa Cup for the first time in their history with a 1-0 aggregate victory over Atletico.

Last April, a number of Tottenham supporters were injured during their side's Uefa Cup match at Seville, when the behaviour of the local police was also called into question.