Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

'Fifty thugs' attacked Spurs fans

Broken glass and overturned tables and stools inside The Drunken Ship pub in Rome (AP)

The English football fan stabbed by Italian thugs in an apparently anti-semitic ambush has said his attackers "came out of nowhere".

Ashley Mills, 25, was enjoying a drink with fellow Tottenham Hotspur fans at a bar in Campo de Fiore, in central Rome, at 1am on Thursday when up to 50 masked thugs launched what officials have called a targeted and planned assault.

On Friday, Mr Mills, who is being treated at the Eternal City's San Camillo Hospital told London's Evening Standard: "They came out of nowhere. I didn't see the guy who stabbed me. There were too many of them."

Mr Mills was stabbed in the leg and head and at least 10 other Spurs fans and bystanders were injured as the hooligans - known as Ultras - stormed the Drunken Ship pub. A bystander stemmed the bleeding until paramedics arrived and helped save him.

The builder, from Hutton, Essex, said there was a good atmosphere in the bar, in which he and friends were enjoying a few drinks, but the situation changed quickly. He added: "I was standing outside drinking and the next thing I knew there were loads of them. It happened very quickly, I don't remember much. I remember being pulled out, along the ground, after I had been stabbed."

The attack, which wrecked the pub, happened as Spurs fans prepared to watch their team play Lazio in the Europa League. Initial reports suggested Lazio fans were exclusively to blame for the assault which was apparently launched with shouts of abuse about the English team's historical Jewish roots.

Before the match, Lazio club president Claudio Lotito denied his fans were responsible. But shortly afterwards, as the game got under way, Lazio fans chanted "Juden Tottenham" - using the German word for Jew, and also unfurled a "Free Palestine" banner. Uefa is expected to decide later on Friday if Lazio should answer for its alleged anti-semitism, after the chanting.

However, two fans from the city's other Serie A club, Roma, have been charged with attempted murder. Officers said Francesco Ianari, 26, and Mauro Pinnelli, 25, were in custody and would appear in court on Saturday.

The president of the Italian Football Association (FIGC) has sent a letter of apology to English FA chairman David Bernstein following the attack. Giancarlo Abete said in a statement: "Once again, football has given a handful of delinquents the excuse to take out their racist and anti-semite anger.

"There is evidence of this undoubted motive, which is detrimental to the image of Italian football and doesn't match with the traditional hospitality and welcome of the city of Rome. The city authorities and I publicly express our firm condemnation, with my personal indignation at these events. I beg you to send our apologies to all Tottenham's fans - and in particular to those families directly involved. I will personally follow the investigation's development and remain at your disposal should my assistance in any further matters be required."

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