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Saturday, August 7, 1999 Published at 22:07 GMT 23:07 UK


UK

Soccer fans organise riot on the Web

Police in riot gear had to separate rival supporters

Football hooligans who terrorised Cardiff city centre on the opening day of the season used the Internet to organise the violent clashes.


The BBC's Jason Mohammad reports: 'Trouble flared when up to 300 Millwall fans gathered in the area and were taunted'
Riot police with dogs moved into the Welsh capital after rival Cardiff City and Millwall football supporters fought on the opening day of the season.

The clashes were the latest in a series of violent incidents between the two sets of fans.

But rather than being a spontaneous outburst in the heat of the moment, they appear to have been pre-arranged over the telephone and the Internet since the opening-day fixtures were announced several weeks ago.


The BBC's Gilbert John speaks to witnesses
One Internet site noticeboard published challenges to both sides.

One message described the trouble as the "tear-up of the year". Another said: "Get ready Taffies, we are coming to wreck your country."

Running commentaries from fans describing the trouble were also posted on a site run by self-confessed hooligan Paul Dodd.

The violence comes days after a report by the National Criminal Intelligence Service suggested football hooliganism was increasing, and highlighted the dangers posed by organised gangs using the Internet


[ image: Hundreds of families were in Cardiff for the Big Weekend festival]
Hundreds of families were in Cardiff for the Big Weekend festival
During Saturday's violent clashes, fans hurled glasses and chairs in the city's "café quarter" before mounted police with dogs rushed into the area.

In Cardiff, café and shop-owners locked themselves in for more than two hours until the trouble subsided.

Taxi companies withdrew their cabs after bottles were hurled at cars.

Hundreds of families were in the city centre for the annual Lord Mayor's Parade and the Big Weekend music festival as fans clashed in the main shopping area.

Up to 300 Millwall fans gathered in the "café quarter" where families were enjoying a lunchtime drink when rival Cardiff fans arrived and fighting broke out.

Two people were arrested for public order offences and several were treated for minor injuries. There was no damage to shops or restaurants.

Fans' anger

Police gathered the Millwall fans in one part of the city away from the station before escorting them to the Ninian Park ground.

Trouble continued during the match with reports of further violence and bottles being thrown onto the pitch.

Safety fears led to sports reporter Rob Phillips being forced to leave the grandstand during his live commentary on the game for BBC Radio Wales.

He reported seeing one person being taken away by stretcher and another with blood pouring from a head wound.

Millwall fans were also described by the reporter as "very angry" as they remonstrated with officials after being prevented from leaving the ground after the game.

'Disgraceful'

Chairman of Cardiff City Steve Borley said the trouble was disgraceful.

"Football is the loser," he said.

"It's too early to say what went wrong, but we need to sit down with the police and to see what went wrong.

"Something has gone wrong and it's put families at risk. We never want to see scenes like this again."

Mr Borley said the club will be holding a full investigation into the day's events.





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01 Aug 99 | UK
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