Hooligans run riot at top European soccer fixtures
Matches across the continent, including English FA Cup semi-final, are marred by violence
Tear gas, stun grenades and knuckle-dusters provided a grim, bloody backdrop as hooliganism returned to haunt Europe's top leagues at the weekend.
From London's showpiece Wembley Stadium to Munich's glittering Allianz Arena and at the 2004 Olympic Stadium in Athens, fans fought hit-and-run battles with riot police.
Fourteen fans were arrested and four police officers were hurt when Millwall fans started fighting among themselves as their team went down to a 2-0 defeat to Wigan in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
The fighting was witnessed by millions of people worldwide tuning into TV coverage of the sport's oldest cup competition.
Wigan chairman Dave Whelan said he was stunned by the violence that left some fans injured and children in tears.
"I can't understand why the Millwall fans would fight each other," said Whelan. "I understand if they want to fall out with the visiting team, but why would they fall out among themselves? It just gives football a very, very poor reputation."
In Munich, police warned of a "new dimension of violence" after 16 officers were injured and more than 60 supporters detained before champions Bayern Munich's match against Nuremburg. "There is no excuse for the behaviour," Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.
According to reports, a group of 400 Nuremberg fans was attacked by 120 Bayern fans en route to the stadium before the away fans then turned on police, using stones and bottles.
In all, 61 fans were detained and questioned over offences ranging from assault and resisting arrest to breach of the peace.
Weapons, including knuckle-dusters, were used in the fighting.
Two key matches in the Greek Super League saw hundreds of supporters clash with police, who resorted to tear gas and stun grenades to quell the assault.
The most serious incidents happened at the Athens Olympic Stadium where the match between the home team AEK and Panthrakikos was suspended when hundreds of angry AEK fans dashed onto the pitch after the visitors took a 1-0 lead courtesy of an own goal in the 87th minute.
Last night, it was reported that AEK president Andreas Dimitrelos was admitted to hospital with chest pains.
Earlier, Olympiakos fans, Panathinaikos supporters and police clashed outside Karaiskaki Stadium. Fire bombs and rocks were thrown at police who responded with tear gas and stun grenades.
In the English Premier League, Newcastle fans fought running battles with mounted police. Twenty-seven fans were arrested and at least three police officers injured following Newcastle's 3-0 home defeat by bitter local rivals Sunderland.
Police said they were pelted with missiles as they clashed with home fans attempting to confront Sunderland supporters at the city's railway station.
"These deplorable individuals have no place at Newcastle and bring shame on the club and the vast majority of its proper, law-abiding fans," the club said last night, adding that a lifetime ban would be imposed on those responsible for the mayhem.