Italian police have charged two men with attempted murder after a melee in Rome with racist overtones that left nine British football fans injured, with one in critical condition. On Thursday, around 50 men armed with knives and baseball bats stormed a tourist-oriented establishment in Rome’s Campo de' Fiori square, made racist remarks, and ravaged the place. On Friday, Italian police arrested two Italians on charges of stabbing a British citizen. Police said that after questioning 15 people and searching for evidence, Francesco Ianari, 26, and Mauro Pinnelli, 25, were arrested. The police identified the two as fans of AC Roma, a cross-city rival of Lazio. Reporters had originally linked the attack to hooliganism between the Italian team Lazio, which is based in Rome, and London-based Tottenham Hotspur, which had played earlier in the day. Since October, Rome has seen an increase in militancy by the extreme right, with Italian police and the neo-fascist youth group Blocco Studentesco clashing on an almost weekly basis. Support for the far right has increased, partly due to a deepening economic crisis in Italy, most significantly in the debt-ridden south.
Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno has asked the police to step up their investigation and apprehend the other culprits.“What happened shows that there is a group of madmen and thugs running around and hiding behind the fans in our stadiums, and this is unacceptable,” he said. GVN/HGL