Spain fights back against hooligans after fan dies

Spanish football is proposing a stadium ban on all radical supporter groups, known as ultras, after violent clashes on Sunday led to the death of a Deportivo La Coruna fan.
Barcelonas Lionel Messi was struck by a bottle thrown from the crowd in Valencias Mestalla Stadium on Sunday. Picture: GettyBarcelonas Lionel Messi was struck by a bottle thrown from the crowd in Valencias Mestalla Stadium on Sunday. Picture: Getty
Barcelonas Lionel Messi was struck by a bottle thrown from the crowd in Valencias Mestalla Stadium on Sunday. Picture: Getty

Francisco Javier Romero Taboada died after trouble erupted between rival groups in the streets surrounding the Vicente Calderon stadium ahead of Atletico Madrid’s midday kick-off against visiting Depor.

The 43-year-old died in hospital on Sunday afternoon after firefighters pulled him out of the Manzanares river near Atletico’s home ground, while 12 more people were reported injured – some including stab wounds – during the fighting which was said to have involved around 200 people.

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There have now been more than ten deaths related to crowd trouble in Spain since 1982 and inquests have already begun into the latest incident, which has seen 21 people detained so far, as the authorities in Spain seek answers and solutions.

Following an emergency meeting of the Anti-Violence Commission on Monday, Secretary of State for Sport Miguel Cardenal said: “There is going to be a before and an after in football and it will be apparent soon.

“It has been proposed that we draw up a list of all of the ultra groups to expel them from stadiums and to set out a time frame to do so.


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“The proposals that have been put forward have come from the clubs and they are under no doubt that they will achieve this. It is a path that some clubs have already taken and this commitment is full and conclusive and I am convinced it will be effective.

“There are many criminal databases but we are talking about creating an official list.”

Cardenal also confirmed that a meeting between Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and Professional Football League (LFP) officials will take place on Thursday, while a request for an urgent hearing in the Spanish parliament has been made, as the authorities look to “eliminate these radical and violent people who have no place in football and try to pass as fans”.

Romero Taboada was alive when he was pulled from the water but died in hospital having suffered a cardiac arrest, hypothermia and head injuries.

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Depor players held a minute’s silence at yesterday’s training session to show their support for the family of the 43-year-old. There was been widespread condemnation of the trouble – which reportedly involved ultras from Deportivo, Atletico and locally-based clubs Rayo Vallecano and Alcorcon.

When asked about the issue yesterday, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti used England as an example of how to combat hooliganism. He said: “It’s a sad day. Everybody who works in football hopes that this never happens. It’s clear that the whole footballing world has to work to prevent this in the future.

“I have experience in England and I think they have done many things and done very well to eliminate this scourge.

“They had a terrible experience with hooligans, they did an incredible job in dealing with the problems. In Spain they have to do the same to get rid of this plague.”

Ancelotti, who spent two years in charge at Stamford Bridge from 2011, added: “In England there’s not violence in the stadiums, there’s not police around the stadium before the game, there are kids at the games. In England I never received an insult. Here, around 15-20 days ago, a guy was insulting me throughout the game from behind the bench. It’s a question of culture as well, we are Latin. About the culture, I speak as an Italian, not as a Spaniard, and I think we can improve a lot.”

There was also an unsavoury crowd incident during Barcelona’s match at Valencia on Sunday night, where Lionel Messi was struck on the head by a water bottle thrown from the stands as he celebrated his side’s late winner. Valencia confirmed a lifetime stadium ban will be issued once they identify the person responsible.


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