A Manchester United fan was hospitalized after suffering a stab wound and two were arrested for drunkenness, police said on Wednesday, as up to 50,000 United and Barcelona supporters converged on Rome for the Champions League final. The police in full force patrolled the city, as some 30,000 fans from England and 20,000 from Spain arrived in dozens.
Rome police said that the Manchester United fan was taken to the Santo Spirito hospital after he was stabbed in his thigh in the early hours of Wednesday morning. They did not identify the victim. The fan reported he had been attacked by four people near his hotel in the Vatican area.
Separately, two Manchester United fans were arrested for assaulting bystanders in Campo de Fiori, an historical piazza and popular tourist hangout. Police said the men were drunk despite a ban on alcohol sales imposed by authorities.
Authorities have been monitoring hard-core fans of Rome’s local teams amid concerns that they might seek to ambush visiting supporters. AS Roma fans were being kept under scrutiny as they clashed with United supporters in Rome in 2007, stabbing a number of them.
Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno said that officials had warned leaders of the “ultras,” or hard-core fans, not to create trouble. With hours to go before the match, the fans flooded the city center, snapping pictures at the Colosseum and sporting the colors of their teams. Hundreds attended Pope Benedict XVI’s public audience at the Vatican, waving their flags before the pontiff.
Thousands of law enforcement officials were deployed around the stadium and in the city center, at airports and subway stops. Security officials say they expect some 5,000 ticketless fans, largely from England, to show up at the stadium.