Violent clashes between West Ham and Fiorentina fans lead to arrests ahead of European final

Police detained 16 people following the clashes between fans ahead of the Europa Conference League final  (AP_ESI_Images)
Police detained 16 people following the clashes between fans ahead of the Europa Conference League final (AP_ESI_Images)

Czech police have detained 16 people after violent clashes between West Ham United and Fiorentina fans marred the build-up to the Europa Conference League final in Prague.

A group of black-clad Fiorentina fans attacked Hammers supporters in a bar in central Prague on Wednesday afternoon, injuring three patrons, authorities said.

Videos on social media showed fans setting off flares and throwing tables at the bar located just off Prague’s Old Town Square. A police officer was also attacked.

“Italy fans attacked West Ham fans in a bar on Rytirska street, injuring three,” Czech police said on Twitter. “A police officer was also attacked. We have restricted the personal liberty of 16 people.”

Witnesses claimed the Italians were armed with “chains and belt buckles” and fans of the Italian side are said to have thrown flares and firecrackers as they approached the West Ham supporters.

A 17-year-old witness said: “They had chains and belt buckles and everything. They come here, try giving it, and then they ran down the road.”

At the scene of the clash, a burnt-out chair and broken glass were seen littered across the ground.

One West Ham fan, who did not want to be named, said “a large group” of Italian fans attacked the bar.

“About eight Italians walked past, swinging bands and chains,” he said.

He added: “Five minutes later there was a big group that came down the road and attacked us.”

The man said five West Ham fans were injured.

He said: “Three of our mates (were injured), out of all of this lot there were five. Three of them were our mates. They’ve gone to hospital.”

He added that one of his friends was “quite badly” injured with a “massive cut” on his head.

More than 10,000 officers are on duty in the Czech capital with major security concerns around the game given the vast numbers of supporters who have travelled without tickets.

An estimated 20,000 West Ham fans are believed to have travelled to Prague, even though the club’s allocation of match tickets was fewer than 6,000, given the small size of Slavia Prague’s stadium hosting the showpiece.

Uefa have also promised a beefed-up security presence at the Fortuna Arena as the governing body are desperate to avoid a repeat of the chaotic scenes that marred last season’s Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid in Paris.

Additional reporting by Reuters and PA