Feyenoord fans rampage in Rome, damage famed fountain

Bernini's Barcaccia chipped, Italians and Dutch vow punishment

(ANSA) - Rome, February 19 - Fans of Dutch side Feyenoord rampaged in Rome for a second day Thursday, hurting 10 police as they wreaked havoc around the Spanish Steps and damaged a famed fountain by Renaissance master Bernini, the Barcaccia.
    The drunken fans, defying a booze ban and spoiling for trouble ahead of a Europa League match against AS Roma, hit the 17th-century landmark with bottles, chipping it, amid running battles with police in Piazza di Spagna. Small fragments of the marble fountain, a beloved and recently restored work by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and his father, were visible amid swirling beer bottles and other rubbish.
    A "central part" of the iconic work was "chipped" by the bottle-wielding fans, Rome Cultural Heritage Superintendent Claudio Parisi Presicce said after a preliminary examination. "We'll have to empty the water to make a full assessment," he said, adding that the city would sue for damages once the culprits were caught.
    Shops around the Spanish Steps closed their shutters as the hooligans battled police and threw flares at them, before being dispersed by baton charges.
    "It's guerrilla warfare," one cowering shopkeeper told ANSA.
    Ten police and three fans were hurt. There was only one fresh arrest - although 23 fans had been arrested, and 33 held, followed a pitched battle Wednesday night in the picturesque Campo de' Fiori square, a former bohemian hang-out that now heaves with pubs and disco bars.
    "Roma devastated and wounded. In contact with the Prefect, Police Chief and Dutch Ambassador. It won't end here" tweeted Mayor Ignazio Marino.
    Marino said he had "protested and demanded explanations" from authorities in charge of public order and the policing of soccer matches.
    He said he would order a probe into why the Barcaccia was not guarded by police, given the clear threat to it. Marino said the city police chief and prefect had "assured" him "everything was under control" after Wednesday night's riot.
    "Security management has great and intolerable leaks," he said.
    The mayor said he was "furious" at the inadmissible" vandalism.
    Culture Minister Dario Franceschini called for "exemplary punishment" for the Feyenoord fans. "It's a disgrace. They aren't fans, they're vandals," he said. The damage to the storied fountain was a "disgrace" even though it was slight, Dutch embassy spokesman Aart Heering agreed. Luckily, he said, only "a few bottles hit the edge, and only a few chips came off," he said, adding "I'm with the police".
    Italian authorities "can count on the complete collaboration and commitment of the Netherlands to see the culprits are punished", the Dutch embassy said in a statement agreed with the Dutch foreign ministry. "Soccer must be a celebration where there is no place for violence", it said.
    "There's no room for violence in sport whether inside or outside the stadium", tweeted European Commissioner for Sport Tibor Navracsics. The director of Florence's Uffizi Gallery, Antonio Natali, said "it is impossible to find the words" to describe the vandalism. "I follow and practice football but these people aren't fans, they're criminals," he said, denouncing "the triumph of brutality".
    After moving away from the Spanish Steps, the Feyenoord fans sparked fresh tension with police as they boarded buses at Rome's Villa Borghese Thursday. The drunken fans pushed and jostled with police as they stamped forward on a carpet of broken bottles.
    Police laid on heavy security for the ensuing match, which was 1-1 at half time.
   

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