Italian media claims diplomatic rift after soccer violence

Wednesday’s confrontations between Manchester United fans and police inside the Stadio Olimpico have created a “diplomatic issue”, according to the Italian media.

Wednesday’s confrontations between Manchester United fans and police inside the Stadio Olimpico have created a “diplomatic issue”, according to the Italian media.

Rome’s La Repubblica, a national newspaper, says in its main headline: ‘Clashes at the Olimpico – Blair government accuses’.

The sub-header says 'London demands an explanation after police charge against English fans during Roma v Manchester'.

One headline in Gazzetta dello Sport says: ‘Blair government has demanded an explanation from Italy. The incidents between Roma and Manchester have become a diplomatic issue.’

Sports Minister Richard Caborn said today: “It seems the police were heavy-handed – but whether that was justified or not we will have to wait and see.”

The British Home Office minister, Vernon Coaker, also expressed concern at the level of force used by Italian police, while Manchester United accused police of “indiscriminate beatings” and announced they would collect fan statements for an independent investigation.

Corriere dello Sport has a column which says: “The incidents at the Olimpico have become a diplomatic issue. The English authorities accuse ‘police of being brutal and UEFA are investigating’.”

Corriere quote the head security official in the stadium, Achille Serra, who said: “We have acted correctly.”

Corriere’s main focus is on the victory, however, with the paper quoting Roma club president Franco Sensi as saying: “I am proud of my Roma. Now, my Roma is one of the top teams in Europe.”

In Gazzetta is an editorial critical of Roma fans, using the headline: ‘Those Knives Were All Ours’.

The writer, respected journalist Candido Cannavo, says he wants to apologise to English fans for what happened, but also refers to the police report that says English fans are to blame.

He wrote: “Yes, it’s true, the Manchester fans were drunk and behaved in their own disgusting manner and some of them have tried to create a confrontation but the knives, considering the number of injured, were probably all from one side.”

The headline in Rome-based sports publication Corriere della Sera says: ‘Fans hit, London against Italy’.

Photographs from Wednesday night’s incidents are played prominently.

In Corriere della Sera, there are three photos of a fan who is bleeding after being hit on the head.

The Corriere dello Sera has a photo covering two pages of a frightened English fan kneeling underneath a riot policeman who is holding a baton.

Another Englishman stands behind the fan, trying to defend him.

A Gazzetta photograph on the front page shows Italian police hitting United fans beside a headline: ‘It is the fault of the English’.

On page three of Gazzetta is another photo of a United supporter and stabbing victim, lying in a hospital bed.

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