Republic of Ireland football fans allegedly attacked by Albufeira police ahead of Gibraltar qualifier
Republic of Ireland football fans have spoken of their terror following an alleged attack by Portuguese police in Albufeira on Wednesday night.
Nearly 3,000 Ireland fans are expected to make the trip to the Algarve to see Martin O’Neill’s men take on Gibraltar in the European Championship Group D qualifier in Faro on Friday night.
And while there has been a good-humoured, party atmosphere in sun-drenched Albufeira, where the majority of supporters are staying, some Republic fans have expressed their anger after an alleged unprovoked attack by baton-wielding police.
“We came out of pub and we were standing on the strip. There were a loads of Ireland fans on either side of the road singing back and forward to each other,” said Ireland fan James, who showed Independent.ie wounds to his arm and ear after the incident.
“The police came up to move fans. They were grabbing women and throwing them, they started pushing everyone. I saw one lad who was pushed and he fell and he just missed a pole. Then all went quiet for about 10 minutes.
“Something must have happened up the road because the police just charged at everyone. We put our hands up to say we didn’t want any trouble. I got a baton into the leg, another friend was hit in the waist and another in the arm.
“I fell and got hit on the back. I ran and a cop chased me down the road and cracked me on the back of the legs again. I went down with my hands on my head and an Irish guy came and dragged me away.
“I lost my shoe in the whole episode and when I was putting it back on another cop hit me across the head. I am going to the doctor today to get it seen to.
“I was separated from my friends and a few other Irish looked after me. I could see two or three lads lying on the path.
“We were literally just standing there talking. We didn’t even have our voices left to sing before the police attacked. It was extremely heavy handed stuff.”
A spokesperson for the FAI told Independent.ie that it had sold 2,600 tickets to Irish fans for the match against Gibraltar but had not heard of any altercation on the main strip.
Portuguese police were unavailable for comment when Independent.ie tried to contact them earlier today.
Other fans took to Twitter to express their anger.
"Albufeira police are the worst I've ever seen. clubbing innocent girls in the face for sending texts because they thought they were videos," wrote @GalwayGambler.
"Have honestly never seen anything like I saw tonight. Absolutely battering innocent bystanders. These guys are less than nothing IMO.
"Nothing will happen because it's a closed shop over here but these pricks deserve jail time. Scum of the highest order."