Fears are growing over the safety of Liverpool fans heading to Rome for next week’s Champions League second leg.
Around 5,000 supporters with tickets — and thousands without — are expected to travel to Rome next Wednesday as Jurgen Klopp attempts to guide Liverpool to the final.
However, the notorious reputation of the home side’s ultras and shocking scenes before Tuesday’s first leg at Anfield have sparked concerns over the wellbeing of those fans.
Roma supporters attacked a Liverpool fan outside Anfield ahead of their clash on Tuesday
Roma fans brandished belts during the unprovoked attack before Champions League tie
One supporter was pictured carrying a hammer on his way to the attack at Anfield
One Liverpool fan, Sean Cox, 53, of County Meath, Ireland, was left in a critical condition after being hit with a belt by Roma thugs and suffering a head injury before kick-off.
Two men from Rome, aged 20 and 29, have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.
Liverpool and Roma both issued statements condemning the attack, while UEFA described the events as ‘vile’ and added they would wait to receive full reports before deciding on potential disciplinary action.
Liverpool fan Sean Cox, 53, is in a critical condition following the attack last night
Liverpool supporter group Spirit of Shankly say the attack raises questions over the safety of those travelling to Rome.
Discussions between the group, Liverpool and Merseyside Police are ongoing.
Sportsmail understands that while a match commander and ‘dedicated football officers’ from Merseyside will travel to Italy, their powers on foreign soil are limited and they will be unable to intervene should trouble break out.
Instead, it is anticipated that British police will be at Rome’s airports where they will hand out safety advice.
Chief Superintendent Dave Charnock warned those without tickets not to travel and confirmed that British officers would be in Italy.
‘The force is working closely with the Italian authorities and AS Roma to ensure this great occasion can be enjoyed by fans in a safe environment,’ he said.
Video footage showing many officers did not intervene as battles took place between fans
One witness said the police in the area moved in to help ‘only after the Italians had gone’
Merseyside Police said they arrested nine men for various offences before and after the match
Liverpool may also speak to their counterparts at Chelsea after a number of their fans were attacked by thugs with iron bars ahead of their Champions League group match in Rome in October.
Attacks on fans of English clubs in Rome are nothing new.
In 2001 six were stabbed before Liverpool’s UEFA Cup fourth-round tie against Roma while, in 2006, three Middlesbrough supporters were knifed during clashes with Roma ultras.
And in 2007, five Manchester United fans were taken to hospital with stab wounds after violence flared inside the Stadio Olimpico. United accused baton-wielding Italian police of carrying out ‘indiscriminate beatings’ on innocent supporters.
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