Dutch to help Rome 'punish' unruly Feyenoord fans

AFP , Friday 20 Feb 2015

Feyenoord fans
A policeman confronts Feyenoord fans prior to the start of the Europa League soccer match between AS Roma and Feyenoord at the Spanish Steps in Rome, February 19, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

The Dutch government on Friday hit out at Feyenoord supporters who trashed one of Rome's best-known squares ahead of a Europa League match, pledging "full support to punish the culprits".

Hundreds of the Rotterdam-based club's fans clashed with Italian police ahead of the match against Roma on Thursday night, leaving the Italian capital's famous Piazza di Spagna looking like a war zone.

The fans, many of whom had been drinking heavily, hurled smoke bombs and other projectiles at a large contingent of police who arrested at least 22 supporters.

"Football must be a festive event and there's no place for violence," the Dutch embassy in Rome said in a statement on its Facebook page on Friday.

"The Italian authorities can count on the full cooperation and commitment of the Netherlands to ensure that the culprits are punished," said the statement in Italian.

Rome mayor Ignazio Marino took to Twitter to voice his anger, describing the city as "devastated and injured," after the unrest.

Dutch media reports said fans threw beer bottles and fireworks and urinated in the square, damaging the 400-year-old Barcaccia fountain, reopened in September after 10 months of restoration at a cost of more than 200,000 euros.

Feyenoord general manager Eric Gudde condemned the unruly supporters, but said they should be balanced with the good behaviour of other fans at the Olympic Stadium later on Thursday.

"But let me be clear: Feyenoord distances itself completely from what happened in the city. If you visit a city, you leave it the way you found it," he told the NOS public broadcaster.

Rob Smit, chairman of the Feyenoord supporters club reacted angrily to the accusations, Dutch tabloid De Telegraaf reported.

"I can understand the Italians must be miffed when Feyenoord fans urinate against their monuments."

"But then, Rome is one big monument," he told the paper.

The round of 32 first leg tie ended 1-1.

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