The Union of Italian State Police has fiercely criticised the level of policing during of Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Roma at Anfield on Tuesday night.
An unprovoked attack on Sean Cox, a 53-year-old Liverpool fan, by Roma supporters has left him in a medically induced coma. Mr Cox remains in a critical condition in Walton Neurological Hospital and two men from Rome have been charged in relation to the incident.
Fears have since risen over the safety of Liverpool supporters travelling to the Italian capital for the second leg on Wednesday but Italian officials have blamed Merseyside Police’s strategy for such incidents occurring.
The Union of Italian State Police has criticised the level of policing at Anfield on Tuesday night
‘The English police come to Rome to check out the situation and dictate the rules, meanwhile there’s the genius idea of getting the Reds to train at Formello, only fueling reports of a possible union of Liverpool and Lazio ultras,’ Andrea Cecchini, representative of the Union of Italian State Police told Il Tempo.
‘We have the certainty of at the arrival of at least 1,000 English ultras, and considering the Lazio fans have in the past already twinned with violent fanbases from the Czech Republic, Croatia and Poland, the risk of a new alliance is very high.
‘When these foreign fans arrive, there is no Fan Passport, no stadium ban or anything else. They can do whatever they please and we will have to escort them.
‘That’s what didn’t happen in Liverpool, where the police weren’t there even an hour and a half before kick-off, there were not even barriers to separate the opposing groups of fans.
‘Public order collapsed, they lacked planning and the visiting supporters had to walk towards the stadium by themselves, unescorted, in the middle of Liverpool fans.’
Roma supporters attacked a Liverpool fan outside Anfield ahead of their clash on Tuesday
Liverpool supporter Sean Cox (right) is in a critical condition after being attacked on Tuesday
Italian police are expecting ‘large groups of hooligans’ for the semi-final second leg next week
Liverpool held a productive meeting with UEFA, Roma and the Italian authorities on Friday after the Reds requested an unprecedented discussion over security for the 5,000 supporters set to travel.
Rome has been a hotspot for football-related violence and Liverpool have history there. There were knife attacks before a UEFA Cup last-16 match in February 2001 and again 10 months later when they were paired in the Champions League.
The worst violence was after the European Cup final in 1984 when Liverpool fans were ambushed after their side lifted the trophy.
Several more English clubs, including Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea and Middlesbrough, have also been targeted during trips to Rome in recent seasons.