Moscow: We don't want Manchester's violence

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The Independent Football

The Russian government has warned Manchester United and Chelsea fans heading to next week's Champions League final in Moscow that it will not tolerate a repeat of the mob violence which followed Rangers' Uefa Cup final exit on Wednesday.

The Glasgow side's fans were condemned by police for going on the rampage in Manchester following their team's 2-0 defeat by Zenit St Petersburg. The scale of the trouble has forced the city council to scrap plans to show the Champions League final on large screens.

The Russian Sports Minister, Vitaly Mutko, warned English fans going to Moscow to behave respectfully, saying no facilities were being laid on for those without tickets, and that drinking alcohol in the street would not be tolerated. He added: "We will have everything different here... of course the fans of the losing team are going to be disappointed. We would like to call on the fans to appreciate there is always a winner and a loser."

On Wednesday night, 41 people – 40 of them Rangers followers – were arrested for offences ranging from public order to theft, possessing drugs, carrying weapons, criminal damage and assault. Eleven were charged, 11 released on bail and 12 received cautions. Five Rangers fans held on suspicion of stabbing a Zenit supporter were freed without charge. Another Rangers fan and the only Zenit fan arrested were also freed without charge.

Yesterday, Manchester police released CCTV footage showing a gang of up to 200 fans chasing officers before catching one and kicking and stamping on him. The assistant chief constable, Justine Curran, said the mob was "like a pack of baying wolves".

The city council said it had abandoned screenings of the Chelsea and Manchester United match because of the "bad behaviour of a minority". Sir Richard Leese, the council leader, added: "We cannot tolerate missiles and bottles being thrown. We are sorry to disappoint United fans but there can be no big-screen showing of the final." An estimated 200,000 Rangers fans packed into Manchester on Wednesday afternoon. Those with tickets for the match, at the City of Manchester Stadium, numbered no more than 35,000, That left upwards of 160,000 to watch the game on big screens at three city centre locations.

Police were initially pleased by the carnival atmosphere that saw the streets swathed in the red, white and blue team colours of the Scottish side. But things turned sour after kick-off when the giant television in Piccadilly Gardens stopped working. Fans were asked to go to the velodrome to watch the game instead but some refused and turned their rage, and their bottles, on police. At least 15 riot officers and a patrol dog were injured in the running battles and fist-fights which ensued.

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