Threat of violence may stop football fans going abroad


Violent attacks against British football supporters could put many off travelling to Europe to support their clubs, fans have warned.

The latest, apparently anti-Semitic, attack targeted fans of Tottenham Hotspur, known for having traditional links to London’s Jewish community, ahead of their side’s Europa League tie in Lyon.

About 50 men, some of them masked and giving Nazi salutes, attacked fans in The Smoking Dog pub in Lyon, popular among ex-pats in the French city, hospitalising three men. The attack is the second against Spurs fans in Europe this season after a stabbing in Rome in November last year.

The attackers reportedly came in two waves, smashing doors and throwing chairs and a flare into the pub.

Rhone police prefect Jean-Pierre Cazenave-Lacrouts said they have detained three Frenchmen, one a member of a far-right organisation and the other two fans of Olympique Lyon.

The pub’s landlord, Dave Eales, said: “The pub was rammed with Tottenham fans watching football on the television. The front of the pub  was attacked by 20-25 people. They threw projectiles through the windows.” 

Despite the reports, French police said they were not following the anti-Semitic line of inquiry as a priority.

Malcolm Clarke, chair of the Football Supporters’ Federation, said he believed that the threat of more violence would cause some fans to stay at home. “Any trip abroad, even the cheapest costs quite a lot of money, so there is certainly a danger,” he said. “People are not going to pay out large sums of money if they think they are going to be at risk of violence.”