Albanian police evict dozens of football fans after clashes

People pose for photos next to a copy of the Conference League trophy in downtown Tirana, Albania, Tuesday, May 24, 2022. Feyenoord will face Roma in the Europa Conference League final on Wednesday .  (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

People pose for photos next to a copy of the Conference League trophy in downtown Tirana, Albania, Tuesday, May 24, 2022. Feyenoord will face Roma in the Europa Conference League final on Wednesday . (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

PA

Dozens of football fans have been deported to Italy following violent clashes in Tirana ahead of Wednesday’s Europa League final, Albania’s deputy police chief has said.

Italian club Roma will face Dutch side Feyenoord in the match at the 20,000-seat National Arena.

Two separate groups of Dutch and Italian supporters clashed with police in the city on Tuesday, injuring 19 officers and five Albanian civilians. A police officer was injured in a knife attack, authorities said.

Three Italian supporters and two Dutch supporters were also injured.

On Wednesday, Deputy Chief of Police Albert Dervishi called on “Italian and Dutch fans to behave and act like European citizens, to respect the laws of the country and not to clash with the police, otherwise the laws will be strictly applied”.

Dervishi said 48 Italian fans and 12 Dutch fans have been arrested, adding that anyone arrested could face up to seven years in prison. He said 80 supporters had been deported to Italy.

The police chief also called on businesses to avoid offering glass bottles to customers and warned Tirana residents to avoid “provocations from individuals or groups of fans who may be under the influence of the alcohol”.

“We are determined to ensure order and security, to prevent the destruction of property and the normal conduct of sports activity,” Dervishi said.

Roma executive director Pietro Berardi, who met with Tirana mayor Erion Veliaj, asked fans of both teams to behave themselves.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm and passion, but we have to respect everyone,” Berardi said.

Feyenoord and Roma are historic clubs with large fanbases. Up to 100,000 fans are expected in Tirana as each club is only allocated 4,000 tickets for the inaugural final of the third-tier European tournament.

There are separate “fan zones” for each club, just one kilometer (0.6 miles) apart.

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