Italian fans involved in unsavoury incident…
Napoli fans were blamed Wednesday for an attack on a restaurant near Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium prior to Tuesday’s Champions League tie in north London.
A statement issued by London’s Metropolitan Police Service said the incident, which saw one man assaulted and the window of the Piebury Corner restaurant smashed, started when around 30 Napoli supporters became involved in a verbal exchange with Arsenal fans as they passed the restaurant on their way to the Emirates where the home side won 2-0.
However, the manager of the restaurant insisted Arsenal fans had played no part at all in the build-up.
The police statement added: “The Napoli fans then turned violent, smashing a window and throwing a number of chairs before moving on.”
Arsenal supporters had to duck for cover and a 48-year-old man was taken to hospital with lacerations to his head, after witnesses reported that a group of Italian men had been swinging belts and throwing tables and chairs through the restaurant.
Wednesday saw Piebury Corner manager Paul Campbell and his staff continuing to clean up the damage.
While English football fans remain notorious in Europe for hooliganism, largely as a result of incidents from the 1970s through to the early 2000s, Campbell absolved Arsenal supporters of any blame for Tuesday’s incident.
“I’ve looked back at the (CCTV) footage and it is very clear – it was a completely unprovoked attack,” Campbell, originally from Ayrshire in Scotland, said.
“I was at the restaurant last (Tuesday) night and saw it happen, and I was shocked by it. But, having looked back at the footage, it looks even worse.
“The Arsenal fans were backing away from the trouble, they were trying to get out of the way.”
Campbell, who added several Napoli supporters had visited Piebury Corner without incident earlier in the day, said there was no sign of any Arsenal fans looking for trouble and took issue with an aspect of the police’s version of events.
“They (Arsenal supporters) did not retaliate at all. There was no verbal exchange — they were just attacked.”
Police said there had as yet been no arrests in connection with the incident.