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By ESPN Staff
Dec 13, 2007

Italy in the spotlight after Utd fans are stabbed

Italian football is under scrutiny once again after five Manchester United fans were stabbed in clashes with Roma supporters before last night's final Champions League group match between the two sides.

A total of seven people were taken to hospital, although one of those was a 16-year-old boy who needed treatment for being drunk.

None of the stab victims are understood to have serious injuries.

'The injuries ranged from stab wounds to broken wrists and being worse for wear from alcohol,' said a spokeswoman for the Foreign Office.

Officials also revealed six Britons were arrested after fighting broke out on the Pont Duca d'Aosta bridge which fans cross over the river to get to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

The British Embassy in the Italian capital said four of the six detained were formally charged with obstructing police officers in their duty. Two others were released without charge.

Embassy staff said it appeared there were no further disturbances as fans left the stadium after the game which finished 1-1.

With the two sides having a history of trouble United manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted he was disappointed by the scenes in the city.

'This is something we hoped would not happen,' he said.

'We wanted a nice quiet night and to be able to go home with no incident. It is disappointing that has not happened.

'Obviously, we are not sure of the details but we hope the supporters concerned will be okay.'

Roma coach Luciano Spalletti condemned the hooligans as 'sick'.

British Embassy staff had warned travelling fans beforehand not to use the Pont Duca d'Aosta bridge because it was habitually used by Roma's notorious Ultras - a following of hardcore fans.

Scenes of violence and disorder marred the two clubs' Champions League games last season, although this season's group match in Manchester in October passed off peacefully.

Eighteen United fans needed hospital treatment in April after clashes on the terraces in Rome and outside the ground.

Italian police were accused by United club officials of handing out 'indiscriminate beatings' as they charged United supporters with batons.

Violence flared again a week later at the return leg at Old Trafford when scuffles broke out outside the ground.

A volley of missiles was thrown at Roma supporters as they entered the away end turnstiles and 21 people, including 14 United fans, were arrested.