Wednesday 18 September 2019

Liverpool fans could be kept inside Stadio Olimpico until 1am as police ramp up security in Rome

Liverpool FC fans outside a bar in Campo de' Fiori, Rome ahead of the UEFA Champions League, Semi Final Second Leg match at the Stadio Olimpico against AS Roma on Wednesday
Liverpool FC fans outside a bar in Campo de' Fiori, Rome ahead of the UEFA Champions League, Semi Final Second Leg match at the Stadio Olimpico against AS Roma on Wednesday

Peter Rutzler

Liverpool supporters could be held in the away section at the Stadio Olimpico until at least 1am after their Champions League semi-final second leg with Roma tonight.

Italian police want to minimise the risk of crowd trouble amid fears that Roman Ultras will look to target travelling supporters.

Liverpool take a 5-2 lead to Italy, however concerns have grown following the attack on supporter Sean Cox, 53, at Anfield last week. The Irish national was left in a critical but stable condition after he was assaulted outside the ground, leading to the arrest of two supporters of the Italian club.

More than 5,000 police officers are set to be deployed in the Italian capital as part of a huge security operation to keep Reds fans safe, which will include keeping supporters back at the Olimpico for as long as two-and-a-half hours after full time.

The head of Rome police special branch, Giampietro Lionetti, said: “If all goes well, we will let the Liverpool fans out earlier, but it could happen [that they remain inside the ground until 1am].”

Liverpool have issued strict bullet-point guidelines for supporters following advice from the Italian authorities, which highlight where they need to be in order to avoid trouble.

Fans have been told that they should avoid the north of the city, including the Ponta Duca d’Aosta – a bridge where English fans have previously been attacked – as well as to ‘respect monuments of national importance’.

Designated safe zones have been established at the Campo de’Fieori, the Termini station and the Villa Borghese, where fans can safely get buses to and from the stadium.

Fans have also been told that ‘under no circumstances’ should they attempt to walk to the Stadio Olimpico.

Lionetti added: “'We need to work to keep hardcore fans from both sides separated.”

Barcelona supporters were also held back at the ground until past 1am, despite their Champions League quarter-final being a much lower risk fixture.

Manager Jurgen Klopp said in his pre-match press conference that he has full confidence in the Italian authorities:  “I would have given a one-and-a-half-hour speech if I thought that somebody would listen to it — the right people would listen to it — about why it is important to behave in a right way, but obviously that doesn't really work.

“I trust in the police, and all the other forces who do these things.

“Me, I will prepare a football game and it is quite special because it is a semi-final. But I cannot imagine why somebody goes there and plans something around the football game. I don't know why they have these thoughts and why they want to express themselves in these moments and have these little or bigger fights.

“I have absolutely no tolerance for these things. I really hope we are already over the mountain and people are a little bit more aware of what could happen and are responsible.

“If somebody (misbehaves), then it should be really massive, the punishment.”

Klopp’s side will be hoping to make their first Champions League final since 2007 tonight. The Reds have one foot in the final thanks to goals from Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane in the first leg, giving the Merseysiders a 5-2 lead. 

But Klopp will be wary of Roma’s pedigree when it comes to unlikely European comebacks, following the Italian club’s remarkable victory over Barcelona in the quarter finals, where they overturned a three-goal deficit in the second leg at the Olimpico to progress to the semi-finals.

Holders Real Madrid have already booked their tickets to Kiev later this month after they overcame Bayern Munich 4-3 on aggregate last night, following a tense 2-2 draw at the Estadio Bernabeu.

The final itself takes place on Saturday 26th May.

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