Page last updated at 07:25 GMT, Monday, 30 March 2009 08:25 UK

Match had 'potential for trouble'

Polish fans and police
Trouble flared before, during and after the match at Belfast's Windsor Park

A councillor has criticised the kickoff time for Saturday's World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Poland which was marred by crowd trouble.

Ulster Unionist Bob Stoker said the game should have kicked off before 1715 GMT given the potential for trouble.

Four men - all Polish nationals - have been charged with disorderly behaviour and are to appear in court on Monday.

Councillor Bob Stoker said problems were caused by Polish fans who travelled without tickets.

"The game should not have been played at a quarter past five on Saturday knowing the potential for trouble and the amount of alcohol that would be taken," Mr Stoker said.

"There was about 300 of them who arrived here without tickets, without accommodation, nothing and they were here just intent on causing trouble, people were aware of that.

"The police gave us assurances that steps would be taken to ensure these people wouldn't be allowed near us without tickets - that failed."

Bar clash

Before the game, nine people had been arrested, the majority Polish, after trouble at a bar in Bedford Street on Saturday. Five were later released.

Eleven police officers were injured in trouble surrounding the game.

Up to 60 Northern Ireland fans clashed with police at a roundabout at the bottom of Tates Avenue, outside Windsor Park football ground after the game.

Police blamed some Polish fans for earlier disturbances.

They said later attacks on homes occupied by foreign nationals were being treated as "racially motivated".

Assembly member Jimmy Spratt said reports of "up to 12 houses" being targeted were "very disturbing".

"Such attacks can never be justified, they are to be utterly condemned and I would appeal for calm," the South Belfast DUP MLA said.

Police in riot gear were pelted with fireworks and bottles at the bottom of Tates Avenue outside Windsor Park.

Superintendent Chris Noble said officers would be examining CCTV footage to identify those involved in the trouble.

He said the attacks on a number of homes were "being treated as racially motivated incidents".

Police and politicians have appealed for calm over the disturbances on Saturday.



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