Manchester United fan stabbed in Rome
ROME (AP) -- A Manchester United fan was hospitalized after being stabbed and 15 people, including United and Barcelona supporters, were arrested by police in separate incidents before the Champions League final Wednesday night in Rome.
No violence was reported immediately after the match's end.
Dizzy with joy over the 2-0 victory for Barcelona, the Spanish team's fans were celebrating in the ancient alleys and squares of the Italian capital. Barcelona supporters playfully dipped their team scarves into the waters of the city's monumental fountains.
Disappointed British fans filed out of the packed stadium calmly, as police helicopters buzzed over the city on the watch for any pockets of violence.
As up to 50,000 United and Barcelona supporters thronged through Rome earlier in the day, huge numbers of police patrolled the city. While many fans peacefully flooded the cobblestone streets of Rome - many openly sidestepping an alcohol ban imposed by the authorities - scattered episodes of violence were reported in and outside the Italian capital before the match.
Near the stadium, two young men were surprised as they sold cans of beer they had stashed in picnic coolers and backpacks.
Police said that a United fan was taken to the Santo Spirito hospital after he was stabbed in the thigh in the early hours of Wednesday morning. They did not identify the victim.
The fan told investigators that four attackers who spoke Spanish attacked him near his hotel in the Vatican area. He was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday afternoon.
Separately, two United fans were arrested for assaulting bystanders and police in Campo de Fiori, a popular square in the heart of Rome which is lined with pubs and cafes.
Police said the men, aged 19 and 45 but not identified, were drunk despite a ban on alcohol sales imposed by authorities in areas including the city center and near the stadium.
"They will watch the match from a TV inside the Regina Coeli prison,'' said a police statement.
The ANSA news agency said two United fans were arrested for trying to pay at the posh Cafe de Paris with counterfeit money.
Three Barcelona fans were arrested after a police search of their car turned up blunt objects, including clubs and a javelin, police said. The three were traveling from Civitavecchia, a port near Rome where hundreds of Spanish fans had arrived by ship.
In yet another incident, four Italians were arrested in Ostia, on the coast near Rome, after they attacked an American, apparently mistaking the 23-year-old man for a United supporter. The U.S. citizen, who was beaten up and stabbed in his thigh and backside, was hospitalized in serious condition, police said.
During the game, police in the stadium arrested an Italian man who was trying to steal a fan's camera, Italian media reported.
Some 30,000 fans from England and 20,000 from Spain arrived for the match, largely on dozens of charter flights at Rome's airports.
Authorities had been monitoring hardcore fans of Rome's local teams amid concerns that they might seek to ambush visiting supporters. AS Roma fans especially were being kept under close watch, because they clashed with United supporters in Rome in 2007.
Before converging to a heavily patrolled stadium, the fans flooded the city center, snapping pictures at the Colosseum and sporting the colors of their teams. Fans wore flags as capes and one Spanish woman, in honor of the host city, had a Barcelona flag wrapped around her like a toga.
Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.