English football fans stabbed in Italy

Three Middlesbrough fans have been stabbed in Rome in a violent clash ahead of the football club's UEFA cup match against Roma.

The violence broke out in the Campo di Fiori area when two bars, where around 200 English fans were drinking, were targeted by a group of Italian fans.

Cleveland Police said that a 39-year-old Middlesbrough supporter had to have an operation for stab wounds to his back and chest, while two other fans - aged 18 and 31 - were also treated for stab wounds in hospital.

Cleveland Police said that the trouble was started by what appeared to be an "organised gang" of Roma fans, who were wearing scarves across their face. They are understood to have thrown flares into one of the pubs.

The violence has been blamed on a group of extremist Roma supporters.

Italian police, armed with batons, were called to the scene in order to break up the violence. A spokesperson for the British Embassy in Rome said that five Italians had been arrested.

Last year, a Middlesbrough fan died after being stabbed outside a bar in Amsterdam, after travelling to the Dutch capital for a match last November. Brendan O'Connor, 36, from London, had joined friends to travel to Holland to see Boro play AZ Alkmaar.

Middlesbrough will play Roma tonight at the Stadio Olimpico in the second leg of the fourth round UEFA Cup match. Boro lead 1-0 from the first leg match at the Riverside.


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