Dutch soccer fans trash Rome

Rotterdam 2005, was just another ugly chapter during De Klassieker, when hundreds of Ajax fans had spent the journey down from Amsterdam trashing the train.

Once on the platform outside the stadium they started to tear down the wire fencing. On the opposite side of the barricades, their Feyenoord rivals were waiting.

Rotterdam is barely 50 miles from Amsterdam but Feyenoord and Ajax might as well be at opposite ends of the galaxy for all they have in common.

This weekend Feyenoord fans, however, clashed with armed Italian riot police in one of Rome’s most beautiful piazzas on Thursday.

Police said 20 people had been arrested and more than 10 injured during the clashes ahead of their Europa League tie with Roma.

Six police officers required medical attention, scooters in the area were damaged and the famous fountain at the bottom of the Spanish Steps was damaged with a large chip.

Fans had rampaged through the streets of central Rome before converging on the cobbled square beneath the famous Spanish Steps and trashing the recently restored 17th century Barcaccia fountain, which was designed by Italian artists Pietro and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

Perhaps Feyenoord fans had Ajax in mind. Ajax is a reflection of the artistic and freewheeling party-city of Amsterdam. Utilitarian and practical-minded Rotterdam is Holland’s factory, and Feyenoord endorse work ethic and blue-collar camaraderie. The loathing is mutual.

But Rome is also notorious for its footballing violence, and has been the scene of bloodshed for Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and England fans in recent years.

And then there’s the Jewish question. Amsterdam has a Jewish heritage, which is reflected in Ajax’s history and paraded by some supporters’ groups, who adorn the Amsterdam Arena with the Star of David.

This has produced an anti-semitic backlash among some Feyenoord supporters, who taunt their rivals with songs about Auschwitz and gas ovens.

The soccer chaos in Rome cap comments from one of Italy’s top officials Arrigo Sacchi who said too many coloured players featured in Italian football.

Nicola Zingaretti, president of the Lazio region of Rome tweeted: ‘The scarring of Rome is the work of uncivilised. Now exemplary punishment is needed and no indulgence. Solidarity to the police.’