Page last updated at 15:13 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 16:13 UK

Call to widen Uefa violence probe

CCTV footage of Rangers fans and Manchester police clashes

An inquiry sparked by clashes between police and Rangers fans in Manchester for the Uefa Cup final needs to be widened, the first minister has said.

CCTV images have shown fans charging at police and attacking one officer after he was tripped and fell to the ground.

Alex Salmond said the Manchester City Council inquiry would initially look at the breakdown of one of the big screens which had been due to show the match.

Scottish Labour, Tories and Lib Dems called for a full, joint inquiry.

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Murdo Fraser initially said the decision to deploy riot police was an "over-reaction" which may have inflamed the situation.

But he was later forced to temper his comments after viewing the CCTV footage.

Speaking at question time in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Salmond said he believed that the council's inquiry was "initially, at least, quite limited in its scope, looking in particular at the circumstances of the equipment breakdown".

He added: "I would think the inquiry should be wider in its scope.

It seems that the behaviour of a small minority of fans was completely unacceptable
Alex Salmond
First minister of Scotland

"I think there are a number of other aspects to inquire into and certainly we'll give full cooperation to all the matters under our responsibility to such an inquiry."

Mr Salmond said there had been a change of approach in terms of how Manchester was looking to cope with the huge influx of fans "quite late in the day".

He said more than 100,000 supporters travelled to Manchester.

"The overwhelming majority in the overwhelming number of locations enjoyed a carnival atmosphere - a festival of football."

He added: "It seems that the behaviour of a small minority of fans was completely unacceptable."

Greater Manchester Police said 15 officers were injured under a "severe level of attack" from Rangers fans.

The force said it had been "stretched", but responded appropriately.

One Russian fan was stabbed in the violence and police made 42 arrests as Rangers lost the final 2-0 to Russian side Zenit St Petersburg at the City of Manchester stadium.

Inflamed situation

Ambulance crews were also caught up in the trouble which flared in the city centre, much of it after a big screen that had been set up in Piccadilly Gardens failed about 15 minutes before kick-off.

Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander called for a cross-border probe into the violence.

Mr Fraser, a Rangers fan, said the Greater Manchester force had "serious questions" to answer about its tactics.

MSP Fraser earlier said questions should be asked over policing

He said at first: "I thought there was an over-reaction in terms of deploying riot police which possibly enflamed the situation and I think there has to be an inquiry here looking at how ready were the police for so many fans to come and visit the city."

But after viewing the CCTV images, Mr Fraser issued a statement in which he said the situation was more serious than first suspected.

"The attacks on police officers and paramedics are deplorable and have to be condemned without reservation," he said.

Rangers chief executive Martin Bain condemned fans involved in the violence, but stressed they had been a "small minority".

He added: "The police and council praised the behaviour of the overwhelming majority of Rangers fans and estimates suggest there could have been around 200,000 in the city yesterday.

"There was a tremendous atmosphere all around the city and the vast majority deserved credit for the way they behaved.

"The police and council have identified the failure of a big screen in the city as a key point in the evening. We are deeply disappointed that a small minority soured what was a great carnival atmosphere and this is a view shared by our fans who travelled in unprecedented numbers to Manchester."

Rangers confirmed they had cancelled a planned public procession through Glasgow in light of the death from cancer of Celtic coach Tommy Burns.


I saw officers chased down a street by a baying mob of around 200 people. We had to do something

Assistant Chief Constable Justine Curran

Assistant Chief Constable Justine Curran, of Greater Manchester Police, admitted the force had been "stretched" by the "unprecedented" influx of Rangers fans.

She added: "It was challenging and we were stretched. Our officers did come under a degree of violent attacks. I am happy we responded appropriately.

"I watched the scenes in Piccadilly Gardens from the control room. I saw officers chased down a street by a baying mob of around 200 people. We had to do something."

Sir Richard Leese, the leader of Manchester City Council, suggested "a fair number" of fans had been too drunk to follow directions to an alternative screen which was set up after the failure of the Piccadilly Gardens screen.

Sir Richard added: "The technicians trying to repair the screen had bottles and stuff thrown at them so they had to withdraw.

"I think there were clearly a fair number of fans that had been drinking since before breakfast time and they might have had some difficulty following instructions, but clearly the vast majority were still capable."

And he added: "If you are going to put blame on anybody you put blame on those people for their behaviour - they have to take responsibility."

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