Pre-season friendlies, traditionally a time when clubs test out new players or get regulars back into competitive shape and match fitness before the season proper starts, have become the focal point for some rowdy off the pitch (and occasionally on it) behaviour, not least with fans going toe to toe with rival supporters and rival teams. It’s been a summer of conflict at friendlies around Europe. Here’s a pick of the best.
Anderlecht v Lazio (Brussels, 19th July 2015)
Belgian police detained 20 supporters after clashes broke out before the pre-season friendly match between Anderlecht and Lazio. The arrests were made following fighting outside the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium at the Place de la Vaillance in Brussels.
Lacapitale.be and rtl.be both reported that although visiting supporters were prohibited from attending the match, 60 Lazio fans still gathered outside of the stadium ahead of kick-off. Provocation between the two sets of supporters then led to fighting with glass bottles and iron bars being thrown. The Belgian media outlets confirm the police gradually brought the crowds under control and that there were no serious injuries sustained, though 20 Lazio fans were detained.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Leeds United (Austria, 21st July 2015)
Riot police had to use pepper spray after a fight broke out between Leeds United and Entracht Frankfurt fans at a pre-season friendly. There were 25 arrests and seven injuries during the violence in the Austrian town of Eugendorf after Leeds lost 2-1 to the German team. They said three Leeds fans and two police officers were among those injured after about 450 English fans had travelled to the game.
Around 100 Frankfurt supporters – some of them wearing balaclavas – confronted a contingent of Leeds fans as supporters spilled onto the pitch at the end of United’s 2-1 defeat. An officer with the local police force said around 20 arrests had been made, including supporters of both clubs.One Leeds fan and one officer needed medical treatment, the officer said.
The pre-season friendly in Eugendorf – a town to the north of the Austrian city of Salzburg – drew a crowd of several hundred, the majority of them Leeds fans. A group of Frankfurt supporters were held outside the ground shortly before kick-off but allowed into the 2000-capacity arena as the game kicked off. The match passed off without incident until the final whistle when police with batons and dogs fought to form a cordon on the pitch.
Bologna v Spezia (Bologna, 22nd July 2015)
Bologna lost a pre-season friendly to Spezia and police had to be called when opposing fans clashed before kick-off. It was a disastrous afternoon all round for the side recently promoted back into Serie A. Before the game had even begun, the two sets of around 20 supporters sparked a brawl at the Castelrotto camp. There were bottles and rocks thrown and fist-fights for over 15 minutes until police arrived to break it up.
Utrecht v Derby County (Holland, 24 July 2015)
Derby fans have reacted angrily to claims the club has “damaged its reputation” on its pre-season tour of the Netherlands. Fifteen fans were arrested during the match against FC Utrecht, none of whom were Derby supporters. Riot police were called into the ground as rows among fans threatened to escalate, Dutch officers said. Superintendent Gary Parkin said: “The match was played at FC Utrecht’s training ground and about 200 Derby County fans were there.
“There was a confrontation between rival supporters involving an argument about taking a flag down. Local riot police became involved and they arrested 15 FC Utrecht fans.”
CSKA Sofia v Ashdod (Bulgaria, 2nd August 2015)
A pre-season friendly at CSKA Sofia became anything but when the Israeli side Ashdod were chased off the pitch by supporters of the Bulgaria club at the Balgarska Armia Stadium. Angered by what they perceived to be overly aggressive tactics from Ashdod, CSKA supporters took matters into their own hands in added time, invading the pitch after bombarding the players with bottles, following a lunging challenge from one of the visitors which resulted in the second-tier Israeli side’s third red card. After entering the pitch CSKA supporters promptly sprinted after the Ashdod’s players, who ran for cover into vacant stands or upstairs and out of the stadium.
Thamesmead v Clapton (South London, 4th August 2015)
According to police: “At approximately 8.10pm on Tuesday, August 4, officers who were on-duty at Thamesmead Town FC on Bayliss Avenue, SE28, witnessed a group of individuals throw items towards a second group leading to a short period of disorder. Officers, including the Territorial Support Group and a police helicopter attended. The group was dispersed and a short time later, officers stopped approximately 40 people who had boarded a bus nearby. Two people have been treated for head injuries. Enquiries continue.”