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Nov 23, 2012

2 Roma fans arrested in attack

Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas tells the media the club will support their fans who were attacked in a bar in Rome.

Two Italian men identified as Roma fans have been arrested in an attack on Tottenham supporters out drinking ahead of their team's Europa League match against Lazio.

Seven people were injured, one with a knife wound, when 50 masked thugs launched an assault on Spurs fan Thursday at a pub in Campo de' Fiori square, a popular drinking spot in Rome.

A police statement says that after investigations of 15 people and searches of homes, officers arrested 26-year-old Francesco Ianari and 25-year-old Mauro Pinnelli. Italian reports say the two were being held on suspicion of attempted murder and other charges.

Lazio fans initially were blamed for the assault. Witnesses said the hooligans shouted "Jew" during the attack. Tottenham is known for having a large Jewish fan base from north London.

The president of the Italian Football Association (FIGC) sent a letter of apology to English FA chairman David Bernstein condemning the "disgraceful attack."

"Once again, football has given a handful of delinquents the excuse to take out their racist and anti-semite anger," FIGC president Giancarlo Abete said in a statement. "There is evidence of this undoubted motive, which is detrimental to the image of Italian football and doesn't match with the traditional hospitality and welcome of the city of Rome.

"The city authorities and I publicly express our firm condemnation, with my personal indignation at these events. I beg you to send our apologies to all Tottenham's fans -- and in particular to those families directly involved. I will personally follow the investigation's development and remain at your disposal should my assistance in any further matters be required."

Ashley Mills, 25, was stabbed in the leg and head, with at least 10 other fans and bystanders injured.

Mills was enjoying a drink with fellow Tottenham fans at 'The Drunken Ship' in central Rome before falling victim to what officials have called a targeted and planned assault.

The 25-year-old was stabbed as the hooligans stormed the pub, with a bystander stemming the bleeding before paramedics arrived and helped to save him.

Mills, who is being treated at the Eternal City's San Camillo Hospital told London's Evening Standard: "They came out of nowhere. I didn't see the guy who stabbed me. There were too many of them."

Mills said there was a good atmosphere in the bar, in which he and friends were enjoying a few drinks, but the situation changed quickly.

"I was standing outside drinking and the next thing I knew there were loads of them," he said. "It happened very quickly, I don't remember much. I remember being pulled out, along the ground, after I had been stabbed."

Initial reports suggested Lazio fans were exclusively to blame for the assault which was apparently launched with shouts of abuse about the English team's historical Jewish roots.

Before the match, Lazio club president Claudio Lotito denied his fans were responsible. But shortly afterward, as the game got under way, Lazio fans chanted "Juden Tottenham" -- using the German word for Jew, and also unfurled a "Free Palestine" banner.

UEFA is expected to decide Saturday if Lazio should answer for its alleged anti-semitism, after the chanting.

However, it was two fans from the city's other Serie A club, Roma, who were charged with attempted murder. Officers said Ianari and Pinnelli were in custody and would appear in court this weekend.

A Tottenham club spokesman released a statement on Mills' recovery and promised the club would remain in contact with the family.

"Mr. Mills remains in a serious but not life threatening condition in hospital after suffering a ruptured artery in his upper thigh as a direct result of a wound sustained in an attack in the early hours of Thursday morning in Rome," said the statement. "Mr. Mills is the only one of our supporters that remains hospitalised in Rome following this incident. The club remains in contact with his family and we shall offer updates as and when it is appropriate to do so. The family requests that their privacy is respected at this time. Everyone at the football club wishes Mr. Mills a speedy recovery."

Information from The Associated Press and Press Association was used in this report.

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