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Tension in Italy as English fans pour in


TENSIONS were running high in Sardinia last night as a massive Italian police force faced an influx of English soccer fans who have no place to stay.

As the trendy bars on the Via Roma recovered from what local press dubbed "The Battle of Cagliari," Irish fans looked like being kept well away from the trouble spots where their English counterparts are congregating in increasing numbers.

The main fear is that the lack of accommodation in Cagliari will mean many English fans could be roaming the streets throughout the night.

According to journalists who witnessed Friday night's pitched battle, police may have overreacted to the boisterous singing of drunken fans.

Said one: "It was at that moment that police in riot gear moved in and the officer in charge was warning the English fans to be very careful about their conduct when one of them threw a bottle a him.

"Police immediately drew their batons and waded in on the group of fans." They arrested 42, and 14 were still in custody yesterday awaiting court charges on Tuesday after England's encounter with Ireland.

In stark contrast, a couple of romantic Irish soccer fans delighted a huge Italian TV and press corps when they exchanged wedding vows on the Irish "home" island of Sicily.

Gerry Murphy from Rathfarnham, and Caroline Arnold from the Navan Road, were married yesterday in the church of San Cataldo, 100kms from Palermo.

During the Mass the local folk group Engium, dressed in traditional costumes, played music and the couple were feted around the town on a flower bedecked carriage.

The Italian Minister for in Cagliari tourism, Carlo Tognoli and  the secretary for Tourism in Sicily Guiseppe Merlino sent messages of congratulations to the groom and bride who will spend the rest of their honeymoon following Ireland's fortunes in the first phase of the World Cup.

Online Editors