Craig isn’t so sure the Rome police were the entire problem at the Stadio Olympico.
While the media are falling over themselves to condemn the Italian police for their behaviour in the Stadio Olimpico, the Manchester United supporters must also take some of the blame for the incidents last night. Firstly, the incidents appeared to blown out of proportion â€“ it looked to me as though the police were simply trying to force the United fans away from the barriers, albeit using very heavy-handed tactics. The only United fans being hit violently by the riot police were those who were stupid enough to confront the Roma fans, and then who failed to retreat when the police tried to disperse them â€“ hardly the â€˜innocent fansâ€™ the media have claimed.
Italian football fans are nuts, and I would fully support all Italian teams being thrown out of Europe for a few years following all the recent incidents â€“ Anders Frisk being hit by a coin; Dida being hit by a flare; the death of the policeman and Wednesday night, to name but a few. If Feyenoord were thrown out of the UEFA Cup for failing to control their fans, then why not Roma? However, Celtic recently visited the San Siro to play AC Milan and there was not a single piece of trouble. 10,000 Scotland fans went to Bari to play Italy, and were warmly received, with not a hint of a problem. Roma had no problems when Valencia or Lyon visited â€“ both clubs with a support as large as United. Some people have claimed that English fans have never been forgiven for Heysel, which may be true, but Liverpool visited Juventus 2 years ago and there were no problems surrounding that game.
It is also worth remembering that there was crowd trouble at Manchester Unitedâ€™s last European away game, when they played Lille, which although not serious, will have been taken into account by UEFA. Obviously the main aggressors appeared to be firstly the Italian fans, then the riot police, but United fans did themselves no favours by getting involved. I believe UEFA will take action â€“ probably a stadium ban for Roma and a hefty fine for United for failing to control their fans. Hopefully there will be no repeat of these incidents at Old Trafford on Tuesday, otherwise both teams will face being unceremoniously dumped out of Europe.