Letter: Outrage in Rome

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The Independent Online
Sir: I live in Rome and attended the England v Italy football match last Saturday. What Rome had to endure over the past weekend, and the subsequent reaction in Britain, is a national disgrace.

The British press seem to have a severe case of amnesia. I remember the TV pictures of Heysel in 1984 (31 Italians dead), and more recently the violence in Dublin, and so easily understood the Italians' apprehension before the match.

I stood in the stadium among Italian fans. Immediately after the kick- off 30-40 England supporters charged up the entrance stairs and started punching and kicking anyone they could get their hands on. In an area that contained mainly families this caused panic. As no one was willing to trade punches with "our boys" they left, obviously to rejoin their friends in the main battle and before any caribinieri arrived.

The fighting lasted the whole of the first half (it was not sporadic incidents) with even medical staff coming to the aid of the injured being attacked. If it was not for the actions of the caribinieri another tragedy might have happened in Rome.

I am critical of some of the policing, which can only be described as harassment, and especially the ticketing policy. I doubt lessons will be learnt until the people who know the problem - police and intelligence sources - are more involved in the important decisions. TV wanted the late-night kick-off in Rome, by which time England fans had drunk themselves into a stupor.

Until then the innocent England fan will continue to be subjected to the rightful indignation of the authorities in countries our football team visits.