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More Hooligan Problems in Europe


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Clash erupts in Paris

Players threaten walk-off


Police guard detained fans after trouble broke out during the Champions League, first round, first leg soccer match of Manchester United against Lille Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007 in Lens, France. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Real Madrid, Manchester United, PSV Eindhoven win

PARIS (AP) - The reports of fan trouble at European soccer matches come almost weekly and the latest incident at a UEFA Champions League match between Lille and Manchester United reminded many of the continent's worst era.

While no serious injuries were reported at Tuesday night's match, images of police firing tear gas and English fans being trapped against a field-side fence in an overcrowded section in Lens' Stade Felix-Bollaert brought back memories of the violence and other crowd problems that plagued the 1980s.

Tuesday's incident follows others earlier this season including the death of a police officer in Catania, Sicily, surrounding a Serie A match; riots in Leipzig, Germany, that injured dozens of police; and a shooting death by a police officer, while protecting a fan from rioters at a Paris-Saint Germain game at Parc des Princes.

With the game being played at Lens because Lille's stadium does not meet UEFA standards, the problems appeared to begin in the 15th minute when United fans shook a high metal fence, while a large gate was partially pushed open before being slammed shut again. After riot police arrived and fired tear gas, security officials helped at least two supporters over the barrier and to safety on the field.

Television reports suggested gates in the rear of the seating section had been opened by police to allow English fans with

tickets to sit with other United supporters.

The incident sounded eerily similar to the 1989 Hillsborough disaster in Sheffield, England, when police at English FA Cup semifinal allowed fans into an already crowded terrace section and 96 people were crushed along the perimeter fence.

It also added to a worrying tally of events this season.

In Italy on Feb. 2, 38-year-old policeman Filippo Raciti was killed during riots at a match between Catania and Palermo, leaving 100 people injured.

Eight days later, violence erupted at FC Lokomotive in Leipzig.

About 800 fans of the county league team in Saxony attacked police and security personnel after their team lost 3-0 to FC Erzgebirge Aue II - leaving 39 injured officers and 21 vandalized police cars.

And on Nov. 23 Paris Saint-Germain supporter Julien Quemener was shot and killed by police officer Antoine Granomort, who also wounded another PSG fan, while under attack from a group of supporters following the French team's UEFA Cup defeat to Israel's Hapoel Tel Aviv.

The PSG fans shouted anti-Semitic and racial epithets, and Granomort said he was trying to protect himself and another fan described by officials as a French Jew.

A week after Quemener's shooting - which occurred about 800 yards from the stadium - further trouble erupted in Nancy, France.

Police lobbed tear gas in Marcel-Picot Stadium when Dutch fans threw objects onto the field, and forced a 20-minute delay in the UEFA Cup match between Nancy and Holland's Feyenoord Rotterdam.

Some Dutch supporters at the game were known to have stadium bans.

The rowdy Dutch fans, after marauding through the downtown area before the match, pulled out seats at the stadium in this eastern French town, and threw other projectiles onto the pitch.

Feyenoord, which has a notorious hooligan element, was kicked out of the competition before it could play Tottenham Hotspur of England in the next round.

The compendium of events evokes flashbacks of a time when water cannons and police battling hooligans were common sights, as well as its most notorious moment - the tragic events of the Heysel riots in Belgium at the 1985 European Champions Cup final when 39 people died.

Tuesday's fan incidents were accompanied by an ill-tempered match in which Lille players confronted the referee and debris rained on the field.

The worst on-field behaviour began after Ryan Giggs scored United's goal in the 83rd minute from a quickly taken free kick in a 1-0 win. In addition to Lille's players confronting Dutch referee Eric Braamhaar, staff members leapt off the bench amid wild scenes of protest.

As Players complained that Giggs failed to wait for the referee's whistle before taking his free kick, Lille's goalkeeping coach appeared to beckon them to the touchline.

This angered United coach Sir Alex Ferguson who suggested Lille's staff may have been trying to intimidate Braamhaar by asking their players to leave the field.

"I have never seen anything like that in football," Ferguson said. "I cannot understand it. It was a disgrace."

"It created a hostile atmosphere. (Defender) Gary Neville was struck by an object thrown from the side of the pitch and all sorts of objects were thrown at our bench."

Neville left the stadium with a gash on his face, although it is not known whether that was the result of the object thrown at him.

The Hillsborough disaster, the Heysel riots and other incidents resulted in new laws and regulations by governmental and soccer authorities to end the death and destruction more than a decade ago.

With Feyenoord already having been thrown out of the UEFA Cup and the Italian league suspending play for a week and demanding the implementation of added security rules following its problems, officials may now take even further action.

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