The mayor of Liverpool’s City region has raised concerns that police in Rome will not have ‘learned the lessons of the past’ amid worries Liverpool supporters may be targeted at Wednesday night’s Champions League clash.
Jurgen Klopp’s side take a 5-2 lead to Stadio Olimpico for the semi-final second leg in what could be a joyous occasion for the 5,000 travelling supporters, but there serious fears that violent clashes may mar the fixture.
Before the first leg, fans of the Italian club carried out a sickening ambush close to Anfield which left one Liverpool supporter, 53-year-old Sean Cox, seriously injured.
Liverpool mayor Steve Rotherham (left) expressed his concerns over fans safety in Rome
The attack on Mr Cox, a father-of-three from Ireland, was the latest incident in a long history of issues. Liverpool supporters were attacked with knives in Rome before a last-16 UEFA Cup match in 2001 and again when the clubs were paired on the Champions League 10 months later.
Fans of other English clubs, including Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Middlesbrough have also been targeted in Rome, while ambushes on Liverpool supporters following the 1984 European Cup Final remain clear in the memory to many.
And Steve Rotherham, Liverpool’s city region metro mayor and former MP, is not confident a repeat will be avoided.
‘My fear for the game in Rome is that UEFA have failed to learn the lessons of poor policing in the past,’ he told Sportsmail.
‘Everyone at the game needs to know that their safety is paramount.’
Rotherham supported the talks between officials but fears Rome will not have learned
British police were on guard when Roma came to Liverpool but a fan was still critically injured
On Friday, a meeting was held in the Italian capital, at which Liverpool officials voiced their concerns. They described the summit, which they had called for, as ‘positive and productive’ and disclosed that lengthy guidance for travelling Liverpool supporters will be provided ‘at the earliest opportunity’.
It is thought a list of no-go areas, along with safe places to congregate and advice on travel to the stadium will be handed out at airports ahead of the match.
Officers from Merseyside Police will also travel, although their powers on foreign soil are limited. Liverpool are keen to ensure their fans arrive at the ground in one piece and may fund any initiatives to ensure that is the case.
Rotherham welcomed the talks, and Liverpool’s apparent seizure of the initiative.
Liverpool will play Roma on Wednesday and are 5-2 up going into the second leg in Italy
‘I fully support Liverpool’s efforts to seek reassurance from the Italian authorities that they will work with their Merseyside counterparts to ensure that everything possible is done to protect travelling supporters,’ he added.
‘This should be a showcase for European football and should be remembered for events on the pitch, not off it.’
Two Italian men have been charged with violent disorder over the attack on Mr Cox. They were both remanded in custody and are due to appear at Liverpool Crown Court next month (MAY).