Spurs stewards given police award for bravery
LONDON, May 13 (Reuters) - More than 20 stewards who protected Tottenham Hotspur fans from Spanish police during a UEFA Cup match against Sevilla last month will be presented with awards for bravery on Sunday.
The commendation is usually given for acts of bravery by Metropolitan Police officers and is rarely awarded to civilians. It has never been given to football stewards.
The awards will be presented to the group of 22 stewards at halftime when Tottenham play Manchester City in their final match of the season at White Hart Lane.
Police superintendent Simon O'Brien said in a statement: 'I witnessed what I can only describe as selfless, brave conduct from the Spurs stewards.
'They consistently acted as go-betweens in an escalating confrontation, I saw them physically protecting fans and being injured themselves. I never saw them flinch in a lengthy violent confrontation - they were a fluorescent protective cushion in the middle of a melee.
'I have no doubt that but for the presence of Spurs stewards we could have experienced far more violence that night.'
The trouble started during the match in Spain on April 5 following a peaceful day in which Sevilla and Spurs fans had mingled together in the town.
The violence came one day after similar trouble between Manchester United fans and Italian police in Rome during a Champions League match.
In a statement, Spurs said: 'As Spanish police confronted travelling Tottenham fans with batons and shields, 22 stewards and officials from the club placed themselves between police and fans as they tried to restore calm.'
Tottenham press officer Philip Dorward added: 'UEFA should take notice of this commendation for the way English clubs help police their fans in Europe. The situation could have been far far worse and UEFA should be aware of the steps we take to prevent trouble.'
Sevilla beat Spurs 2-1 in Seville and then drew 2-2 at Tottenham in the second leg a week later to reach the semi-finals where they beat Osasuna. They will meet Espanyol in an all-Spanish UEFA Cup final in Glasgow on Wednesday.