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Friday, 7 April, 2000, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
Fans tell of night of violence
fighting
Violence erupted in the centre of Istanbul
Two British fans caught in football violence in Istanbul have described how one of them was attacked on the same night as two men were stabbed to death.

Ian Williamson, a Leeds fan, told how Turkish fans repeatedly kicked his friend in angry scuffles before United's Uefa Cup semi-final against Galatasaray.

After Kevin and Chris died, no-one cared about the game - they just wanted to come home

Leeds fan Ian Williamson

Mr Williamson and his friend, who asked to be identified only as Andy, described their ordeal to the BBC after flying back to the UK following the murder on Wednesday night of two Leeds United fans.

Christopher Loftus, 37, and father-of-two Kevin Speight, 40, were stabbed to death in scuffles in Istanbul city centre as violence erupted.
condolence card
Turks in the UK sent their sympathies to Leeds fans

Andy told the BBC: "We were in a bar having a few drinks. We moved onto the next bar and the next thing we knew, we were surrounded and fighting had broken out. I was knocked to the floor. Thankfully my friends were there to help me."

Mr Williamson said: "When Andy was on the floor being kicked, five police officers did nothing. They stood and watched.

"It wasn't until we started retaliating - fighting for our lives - that the police joined in. And then they started hitting us. There must have been 30 people arrested, all Leeds fans."

Andy said the two murders took place shortly after the attack on him. "It could quite easily have been us," he said.

"Before than there hadn't been any trouble in the town. Everyone was having a good time."

'Murder gestures'

Mr Williamson, who with his friend had travelled out to Turkey with the two murdered men, said they were lucky to escape with their lives.

It's only a damn game

Supporters' Club chairman Ray Fell

"After Kevin and Chris died, no-one cared about the game - they just wanted to come home.

"The Turkish fans showed contempt for us. They were doing throat-cutting gestures and gesturing at us being stabbed and so on."

Leeds United Supporters' Club chairman Ray Fell said the murders put football into perspective. "It's only a damn game," he said.

And he called for UEFA to take action to ensure fans can travel abroad safely.

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See also:

06 Apr 00 | Europe
Fans' anguish at deaths
07 Apr 00 | Football
Ban Turkish teams call
06 Apr 00 | Media reports
Turkish press blames British 'hooligans'
06 Apr 00 | Europe
Tragedy mars match fever
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