Clashes between rival fans and Albanian police in Tirana on the eve of the UEFA final left 19 police officers injured, while 80 fans were sent back to Italy for riotous behaviour.

Albania Deports Rioting Fans at European Football Final

Fans of Feyenoord gather in Tirana on 24 May 2022. Feyenoord Rotterdam will face AS Roma in the UEFA Europa Conference League final on 25 May. Photo: EPA-EFE/MALTON DIBRA

Albania deported 80 Italian football fans on Wednesday after they clashed with police on Tuesday evening in Tirana on the eve of UEFA Conference League match between Roma and Dutch club Feyenoord.

Feyenoord fans also clashed with officers, throwing glass bottles, sticks and stones on Tuesday, trying to get nearer to the National Arena Stadium in order to clash with Roma fans.

Police tried to stop them. Roma fans also clashed with the police at another neighbourhood in the city. Four police cars were damaged.

Police on Wednesday said 19 police officers were injured in the clashes in total, with one of them stabbed with a knife.

“Initially, a group of fans of one of the finalist teams moved towards the Air Albania stadium in order to attempt a collision with a group of fans of the other finalist team,” the police said.

“Police tried to stop the group of Feyenoord team fans in Mustafa Matohiti street but they violently hit the police officers with glass bottles, sticks, stones and other strong objects,” they added.

Ten citizens went to hospital to get medical help; five Albanians, three Italians and two Dutch.

Media reported that earlier on Tuesday an Albanian citizen was “brutally beaten” by Feyenoord fans and also went to hospital. The motives for the attack are still unknown.

Police also called on Albanians to avoid places where the football fans are staying.

“We also appeal to businesses in Tirana not to sell alcoholic beverages in bottles and glass cups, as they pose an increased risk to the health and lives of citizens in case of physical conflict,” they said.

The government had declared May 25 a public holiday. Minister of Interior Bledi Cuci said: “We have had such an interest [in the final] … that we are taking measures to make it a holiday for everyone.” He added: “We expect an influx of guests, and not only from Italy and the Netherlands.”

The Head of Albania’s Football Federation, Armando Duka, on May 6 said that all the preparations had been made for the “perfect organisation” of the event.

The Mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj, said up to 100,000 people were expected to arrive in Tirana for the final. “The cost of bringing 40,000 to 100,000 people to Tirana is actually a very small percentage of the payment they will leave in our city. Therefore, we are offering free bus transport from Rinas [airport] to Tirana,” he said.

The stadium’s capacity is around 21,000 places.

Source link: