A Basque police officer died during the clashes between the fans of Athletic Bilbao and Spartak Moscow in Bilbao on Thursday before the Europa League clash between the two teams. The incident happened when travelling Russian fans were incited by the home fans, just outside the Plaza Moya area outside the San Mames stadium. The scuffle as per reports broke out just 90 minutes before the game and the local police had to intervene to get the situation under control. The reason behind the violent tussle between the fans is yet to be ascertained by the police. The police were also engaged in a battle with the Russian fans who were in no mood to get things settled.
However, the Basque police (Ertzaintza) have maintained that the police officer did not die in the clashes but have failed to justify the death. In the build-up to the game, two supporter bases engaged in a violent confrontation. The injured were shifted to the Basurto University hospital and a police officer was declared dead on the spot. Several hooligans were arrested by the police, with the officers’ body being sent for a post-mortem to determine the cause of the police officer’s death.
As per a Mirror report, Hundreds of Russian fans attempted to travel to Spain without tickets while breaching the travel orders in process. The supporters gathered at the Plaza Moya where they engaged in a heated scuffle with the home fans. The supporters used bottles, glasses and other stuff they found handy to attack each other before the police took control of the situation. This comes months before Russia will be hosting the upcoming FIFA World Cup. At least five people have been arrested by the police after the incident.
“Our condolences to colleagues, friends and relatives of the Ertzaintza deceased in Act of service. Rest in peace. Goian Bego,” tweeted Bilbao police. “Five people have been arrested. We do not know if they are all supporters of Spartak, but many of them are Russians,” a spokesman for Ertzaintza told AFP. Trouble mounted when the Spartak ultras, a group of Spartak Moscow fans started hurling abuses at the Bilbao fans before the start of the return leg of the Europa League clash, which the Spanish side was leading 3-1. Spartak went on to win the game but Bilbao progressed with an aggregate score of 4-3.
ALSO READ: 7-year itch? A decade gone and why Arsenal fans still itching for glory
After the game was concluded, Athletic Club Bilbao also posted a condolence message for those who lost their lives in the violence.
“Our heartfelt condolences to the family and companions of the deceased agent today. Athletic Club shows its strongest rejection of the violence generated around football,” wrote the Spanish club.