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The BBC's Caroline Thomsett
"The stabbings happened in scuffles ... just minutes before kick-off"
 real 56k

Friday, 16 February, 2001, 12:00 GMT
Fans recover after Rome stabbings
Police stand guard beside Liverpool flags
Police stand guard beside Liverpool flags
Five Liverpool fans are recovering after being stabbed before their team's Uefa Cup clash against AS Roma.

Three men were knifed in the buttocks minutes before the game in the Olympic Stadium, which the English side won 2-0.

One was seriously injured but his wounds were not life-threatening. He remains in hospital.

The incidents followed an attack on another fan, Gerard Collins, 26, who was slashed across the back and an arm in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Two others - Gary McAlbin, 30, and Terry Blake, 26 - who were less seriously hurt than Mr Collins, left hospital after treatment.

We saw fans running at police using railings as weapons and a police van was set on fire

John Hassay
Roma fans clashed with police outside the stadium just before kick-off.

Supporters angered by closure of gates as a security measure at the ground threw stones and bottles at police, who responded with tear gas.

Liverpool supporter John Hassay, 31, from London, told BBC News Online that when he arrived at the stadium an hour before the match, there were "pitched battles" going on between Roma fans and police.


"We saw fans running at police using railings as weapons and a police van was set on fire," he said.

"There was a fog of tear gas and a big plume of smoke over the stadium."

Mr Hassay said that the atmosphere earlier in the day had been calm and quiet but that "feelings were running high" by kick off.

"It was intimidating and we tried to keep a low profile after the match," he said, adding that there had been no trouble during the game.

Commenting on the earlier attacks, Superintendent Dave Lewis, one of five Merseyside officers working with Italian police in Rome, said it appeared the injured Liverpool fans were "picked on" by rival supporters.

Mr Lewis said: "The first incident, which involved Mr Collins, was the most serious and happened at 1am.

Not 'gang fights'

"Another occurred 15 minutes after that, and the last one was at about 3am.

"It does appear that these three Liverpool fans were going about their business and were picked on by Italian fans in the centre of Rome."

"I am as sure as I can be that these were not big gang fights."

A similar account has been reported on the Liverpool FC's official website.

An alcohol ban was in force in central Rome where some 4,000 Liverpool fans attended the fourth-round match at the Olympic Stadium.

However, it appears some fans had access to cans and bottles of beer.

During the afternoon, rowdy Liverpool supporters allegedly threw two Bangladeshi tourists and a Japanese tourist into the historic Trevi Fountain, according to Italian news agency Ansa.

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See also:

15 Feb 01 | Uefa Cup
Liverpool stun Roma with Owen brace
15 Feb 01 | Photo Galleries
Roma v Liverpool - in pictures
15 Feb 01 | Uefa Cup
Final score: Roma 0-2 Liverpool
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