Page last updated at 19:28 GMT, Wednesday, 27 May 2009 20:28 UK

United fan stabbed ahead of final

Police outside the Olympic Stadium, Rome
Italian police said the man was stabbed on Tuesday night

A Manchester United fan has been stabbed in the leg in Rome ahead of the Champions League final.

The British man was stabbed on Tuesday night, taken to hospital and released after treatment, the British embassy in Rome said.

Italian police said the incident happened on the banks of the Tiber River, close to Vatican City. He was taken to Spirito Santo Hospital.

About 30,000 Manchester United fans are in the city for the final.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and the Foreign Office are both investigating the stabbing.

Speaking from Rome, British Embassy spokesman Pierluigi Puglia, confirmed the reports.

I do not believe any arrests were made in connection with this incident and we have no reported arrests elsewhere
Pierluigi Puglia, British Embassy spokesman

He said: "We know that a British man was stabbed in the left leg overnight and was later released from hospital.

"We have spoken to two of his friends who contacted us but we are still trying to trace the man himself to check he is well.

"I do not believe any arrests were made in connection with this incident and we have no reported arrests elsewhere."

There are 12 British police officers on duty in Rome, some in uniform and others in plain clothes acting as spotters for trouble-makers or those who have been banned from attending such games.

Some fans are thought to have travelled to Rome without tickets. Police have warned people to beware of forgeries.

Photographic identity

Police said the build up had been good natured so far with no reports of violence.

A number of Italian touts trying to sell tickets to United fans.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: "It's all going well so far, a few ticket touts have been arrested by Italian police but there have been no reports of violence.

"It all seems to be very good natured."

Fans leaving Manchester Airport
A steady stream of fans left from Manchester Airport

One fan, staying in a makeshift campsite dubbed "Fergie's Field" in honour of the club's manager Sir Alex Ferguson, said his journey had taken longer than anticipated after getting off the ferry in Calais and "ending up in Belgium".

"The sat-nav was set to miss out the toll road on the M6 but we forgot to change it back when we got to France," he told BBC News.

"So we took a slight detour through Belgium, Luxembourg, ended up in Strasbourg, Germany, Switzerland and then on [to Italy]."

Italian authorities were expecting up to 30,000 fans of Catalan giants FC Barcelona and said their biggest worry was the estimated 5,000 ticketless fans .

The credit card-style match tickets have personal information embedded in a microchip and supporters will have to produce photographic identity to confirm they are the legitimate holder.

Manchester United's players flew out to Rome on Monday and are bidding to become the first team to retain the Champions League trophy.

FC Barcelona, who also won their domestic league title, last won the top European prize in 2006.



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