Police chief calls for Roma ban
Police chief Dave McLuckie has called for Roma to be thrown out of European football after more trouble marred their Champions League clash with Manchester United last night.
Five United fans were stabbed in fighting before the final group game between the two sides in Italy as a further depressing chapter was added to the the history of violence involving the Rome club.
Eighteen travelling United supporters needed hospital treatment in April after clashes on the terraces outside the city's Stadio Olimpico Stadium, while three Middlesbrough fans were stabbed and many others injured as trouble flared the night before their UEFA Cup clash with Roma in March last year.
Councillor McLuckie, chairman of Cleveland Police Authority, was among those caught up in the violence that night and is an outspoken critic of the way the Roman authorities have dealt with football hooliganism.
The Stadio Olimpico is due to host the final of the Champions League in 2009 and, in the wake of the latest incidents, Mr McLuckie believes the time has now come for UEFA to act.
Mr McLuckie said: 'Roma should be banned from these competitions. They should not be allowed to enter from the start because the authorities are not able to look after the people who come to their city to watch football.
'They should just be banned from European football. They should not be involved in the Champions League or the UEFA Cup, and that should be the case until they clean up their act.'
English clubs suffered just that fate in the wake of the Heysel tragedy, and Mr McLuckie believes the way British police have subsequently dealt with football hooliganism could be of use to the Italian authorities.
He said: 'We are the experts, sadly, because we needed to be.
'We have a real grip on this kind of thing and I know the British police would be happy to give the Italian authorities and help they require in tackling this issue.
'At the end of the day, the authorities in Rome have failed to keep control of these fans time after time after time, and the Italian authorities as a whole must get in there.
'Here in this country, we do raids on known hooligans before away matches and before big international matches and we stop those individuals travelling.
'They must be more proactive in the way they deal with football hooliganism.
'When people travel to Rome, they don't expect to be attacked and they certainly don't expect to be stabbed, but this is becoming the norm.
'I wouldn't go back there. I love football and I have travelled all over to watch it, but I wouldn't go back to the place.
'The very least you are going to get is a beating - and to try to stem some of the problems, the authorities take the away fans and treat them worse than animals.'
Much of the trouble in Rome has been laid firmly at the feet of the club's notorious Ultras.
However, Mr McLuckie admits that, whoever is responsible, it is only by chance that a British fan has not been killed in the city and has called on the Italian Government to step in.
He said: 'I am absolutely astounded that so far, no-one is dead - but it will not be long before it happens.
'A few weeks ago when the police officer accidentally shot a fan, they rioted in the streets as if they were saying, 'We will do what we want and how dare you try to stop us and kill one of us?'
'Until the authorities make a real crackdown on the people responsible instead of allowing them to riot in the streets as they did a short few weeks ago and take control of their city, this is going to happen time and time again.
'It is not the Rome authorities who need to do this now, it is the Italian authorities from the very top who need to address this situation now.'