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Wednesday, 1 May, 2002, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
Leeds fans' night in 'Hell'
Young Leeds fan leaving a
Fans left tributes to the men who died in the clashes
"Welcome to Hell" banners greeted Leeds United supporters arriving in Istanbul on 5 April 2000, the eve of the UEFA cup semi-final.

That night, two British fans were stabbed to death when they were caught up in running battles on the city's streets.

The rioting that ended the lives of Kevin Speight and Christopher Loftus broke out at about 21:00 local time, near Taksim Square in central Istanbul.

It appeared to have been sparked by a row between rival groups of fans.

In later court hearings Leeds supporters were alleged to have insulted the Turkish flag.

Kevin Speight and his eight-year-old son George
Speight was stabbed during the UEFA cup clashes

Galatasaray supporters and Leeds fans then struck each other with fists, feet, chairs, bottles and knives.

Speight, 40, was reportedly attacked by a large group of men armed with machetes, knives and bits of chair and table legs.

He was rushed to the German Hospital along with other Leeds fans wounded in the fighting. The father of two died later that night.

Loftus, a 37-year-old single man from Burmantofts, was also killed in the clashes. Four other Leeds fans were injured, one of them seriously.

Match continues

Despite the violence, the match went ahead as planned.

Security was tight. About 8,000 police officers were on duty. Armoured cars with water cannons circled the area around the ground.

Leeds fans were confined to their hotels until it was time to transfer them to the stadium in coaches travelling under police escort.

At Istanbul airport, immigration officials had denied entry to anyone without match tickets or with a known history of football violence.

Leeds United had already cancelled a flight chartered by the club and urged fans to stay at home.
Fans fighting in the street
Violence erupted ahead of the match between Leeds and Galatasaray

Inside the Istanbul stadium police carried guns, batons and riot shields. A spiked fence and a row of empty seats separated the 700 Leeds fans from their rivals.

After the game, Leeds supporters were held in the stadium for an hour, then bussed to the airport to catch chartered planes home.

The flight times had been brought forward to get British fans out of Turkey as quickly as possible.

Back in Leeds, hundreds of people paid their respects by gathering at the club stadium.

They left flowers, team shirts and scarves under a statue of the former captain Billy Bremner.

See also:

06 Apr 00 | Europe
Fans' anguish at deaths
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