UPDATE 1-Soccer-Rangers, Zenit not to blame for stabbing-UEFA

Thu May 15, 2008 3:48pm BST

(Adds quotes and background, updates arrests)

By Darren Ennis

BRUSSELS May 15 (Reuters) - Rangers and Zenit St Petersburg are unlikely to face any punishment over the events that led to the stabbing of a Russian fan at Wednesday's UEFA Cup final in Manchester, a top UEFA official said.

But the Russian club may face sanctions over their fans running on to the pitch during and after their 2-0 victory over the Scottish side at the City of Manchester Stadium, UEFA's director of communications William Gaillard said on Thursday.

"We'll have to await the delegates report... but regarding the stabbing, firstly we wish the victim a speedy recovery. Yes, it did take place within the parameters of the stadium and these Rangers fans managed to get into the Zenit zone.

"But this was a small group of individuals for which the clubs and the majority of fans which behaved very well cannot be punished nor held accountable for," he told Reuters.

"But clubs are responsible for the behaviour of their fans inside the stadium, so yes, we could take action over the pitch encroachments if we find any blame with the club."

RUSSIAN STABBED

Five Rangers supporters were arrested and later released without charge by police after a Russian fan was stabbed in the back, while 42 fans were arrested and 15 police officers injured after trouble flared in the city centre.

Police said the majority of the more than 100,000 Rangers fans who descended on the city without tickets were well behaved but said they were sickened by the troublemakers.

"There was a group of 200 plus who chased six officers up a road. They managed to trip one of them and they jumped on them like a pack of baying wolves," Greater Manchester Police assistant chief constable Justine Curran told a news conference.

"It was quite sickening to see."

Rangers chief executive Martin Bain told Sky Sports News:

"Those scenes were dreadful but we have been informed they were caused by supporters who don't normally attach themselves to our support.

"We're obviously extremely disappointed and will do everything we can to help Manchester police find out who those perpetrators are."

Rangers head of security Kenny Scott added: "... many of these people will have no association with Rangers and that exacerbates our difficulty in dealing with what happened.

"If there were 120,000 fans in the city centre then 200 or so let down this club."

REVOLUTIONARY RETHINK

Despite Wednesday's violence in Manchester, UEFA does not expect a repeat at next week's Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea in Moscow and certainly does foresee any retaliatory attacks on British fans.

"Retaliation? No I don't think so. United and Chelsea fans had nothing to do with this and it is the media's responsibility not to make something out of nothing on this," Gaillard said.

"We expect a great final in a great atmosphere. We expect a warm welcome from the Russian people in a safe and secure environment."

Gaillard said European soccer's governing body would not be making any extra security arrangements in light of Wednesday's violence, but said the issue of violence, notably caused by ticketing problems, may require a "revolutionary rethink".

He said he could envisage fans requiring biometric entry into stadiums in the future such as a finger print or eye scan.

"I don't see this (biometric) happening at this stage because it would take a cultural revolution. But, yes, if the current trend continues we will have to move in that direction." (Additional reporting by Mitch Phillips and Jeremy Lovell in London; Editing by Ken Ferris and John O'Brien)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.