Fans clash in Northern Ireland ahead of Poland game
Published 28/03/2009 | 17:23
Football fans have clashed in Belfast city centre ahead of tonight's international match between Northern Ireland and Poland.
At least one person was injured when trouble broke out in a pub on Bedford Street around 2.30pm. Windows were smashed in the pubr.
Later there was trouble on the Dublin Road, but the worst of the violence flared at Tates Avenue close to the ground. Riot police were called in when rival fans attacked each other with fireworks, bottles and traffic cones.
At least nine people were arrested.
Scuffles have also been reported on the Lisburn Road as rival supporters gathered for the game at nearby Windsor Park.
BBC reported that Northern Ireland fans then turned their attention to police after being separated from Polish supporters.
At one stage riot police had to be called in to keep factions apart near Windsor Park before the start of the game.
The match was held up during the first half when a linemen was hit by missile thrown from from a crowd of Northern Ireland supporters in the North Stand just after Poland levelled the game at one one-all.
With thousands of Poles living and working in Northern Ireland, a sizeable contingent of Polish fans have descended on the city to watch their country in World Cup qualifying action.
A significant police presence has been deployed to deal with potential flashpoints.
The match finished Northern Ireland 3, Poland 2.