United Turn To The Government
We've reached a milestone: following further trouble involving United fans, the world does not cry for punishing the 'English hooligans' but admit that police messed it up.
Trouble outside the stadium, trouble inside the stadium: ugly scenes marred our quarter-final clash with Roma. While the normal part of the world admitted this time United fans are not to blame, Italians keep on acting as if everything were all right.
Italian football supremo Giancarlo Abete defended the heavily criticised police, claiming that a mob angry drunks attacked them. This is not ridiculous: this is outrageous, after more than 10 United fans had been stabbed before the game. They probably knifed themselves, they were so drunk, weren't they, Mr. Abete?
Fortunately, UEFA seems to be trying to remain normal. William Gaillard, advisor of president Michel Platini admitted they were not in favour of the Italian system where stewards are not responsible for security - they are only there to show you your seats. Gaillard would like to see the riot police used only as a final resort but they can't influence Italian government to change laws accordingly.
Inside the stadium, missiles were thrown and tear gas was used but none other than ex-referee Anders Frisk blamed the police for this.
'It was a very bad experience for me to be back in the Olympic Stadium and this time witnessing something that was not good for the game of football,' Frisk told Sky Sports News.
'I think the approach from the Italian police was to blame, in my opinion. My feeling from the beginning was that they were very close to the United supporters.
'Maybe what started it was something being thrown and I think the Italian police reacted very, very aggressively towards one or two incidents and this is what caused everything to flare in my opinion.'
The club agree: United asked everyone to send their views over the events, especially those who were present to produce eyewitnesses for their case.
'The distressing scenes witnessed in the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday night shocked everyone at Old Trafford. In what the Club views as a severe over-reaction, local police handed out indiscriminate beatings to United supporters.
An official statement issued from Old Trafford today read as follows:
'In these circumstances, neither Manchester United nor AS Roma is able to call the police to account. As a result, the Club warmly welcomes the Government examination of the incident and will collect witness statements from fans to submit to the Home Office.
'Supporters who attended the game and wish to provide evidence should either write to Roma Inquiry, Manchester United FC, Sir Matt Busby Way, Old Trafford, Manchester, M16 0RA or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.'
UEFA have announced they would start a full inquiry and they're studying every piece of evidence available for them. I think they have to look at two things: first, the disgraceful reaction of the police, and second, the past record and current behaviour of Roma's hardcore fans, the so-called 'Ultras' who are absolutely out of control. Some suggested Roma should be thrown out of the competition - well, I would be in favour of that punishment but only after we beat them at Old Trafford to go through on the pitch.