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Thursday, May 13, 1999 Published at 21:09 GMT 22:09 UK


Police target football hooligans

Birmingham City wants to stamp out football-related violence

Detectives have carried out a series of raids targeting suspected football hooligans in the Midlands.

Three people have been arrested in what police say is the first in a wave of action to break up an organised group known as the Zulu Warriors.

Teams of officers set out for addresses across Birmingham in the early hours of Thursday.

The move followed disturbances before and after the Birmingham City game against Wolverhampton Wanderers last month.

[ image: Some of the suspects have been captured on camera]
Some of the suspects have been captured on camera
The Zulu Warriors group is thought to have organised the violence.

Superintendent John Perkins, of West Midlands Police, said the group was using football as a "cover for their gratuitous violence".

"They don't commit the actual acts of violence in the ground necessarily - it's afterwards," he said.

"It's organised and sometimes at locations we don't become aware of until it's actually taken place. Somebody's going to get seriously hurt if this continues. We've got to stamp it out."

Although Wolverhampton won the Derby match against Birmingham City in April, it is Birmingham who are in the play-offs with a chance of promotion to the premier league.

'Designer image'

There are fears that a hardcore of hooligans could use this as a showcase for their own ends.

Police have released pictures of three men they would like to question. They were captured on closed circuit or surveillance cameras after a police officer was kicked to ground and a missile thrown at a match official.

[ image: A suspect is led away by police after a raid]
A suspect is led away by police after a raid
The Zulus are not typical soccer thugs. Their uniform is made up of Burberry caps and expensive designer labels.

Detective Constable Ian McFadzean, of West Midlands Police, said: "They wear expensive baseball caps, Burberry tops, various types of designer labels costing several hundred pounds, and they all like to conform to a sort of a designer image.

"They're not down and outs who are hard up, they're people with a bit of money to spend."

While some Birmingham City fans have always had a reputation for violence, less and less trouble takes place within the ground, but club officials are determined to get rid of those responsible.

Alan Jones, of Birmingham City Football Club, said: "Anyone that is subject of a ban or a court order, or are found to be wrong-doing, will be banned by the club.

"We have the flexibility to ban for anything up to life."

The police say Thursday's arrests were the first in a series which will be carried out in an operation to target football violence.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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