Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hammers' Mafia Jibe T-Shirts Start Riot; 21 Held in Running Battles with Sicilian Police

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hammers' Mafia Jibe T-Shirts Start Riot; 21 Held in Running Battles with Sicilian Police

Article excerpt

Byline: NICK PISA;ROB SINGH

A RIOT in Italy today was sparked by West Ham supporters poking fun at the Mafia.

Rival fans clashed in running battles through Palermo, the Sicilian city where the crime organisation was born.

Tension had been high since the first leg of their UEFA Cup match in London when Palermo fans were incensed by home fans wearing Tshirts saying "The Hammers v The Mafia".

Police in full riot gear took two hours to subdue what they described as a "huge battle" in the early hours. Bottles, glasses and chairs were used as missiles. Twenty one West Ham fans were arrested. More than 100 were bussed out of the area "for their own safety". The violence was so bad that some supporters are flying home today before tonight's match. More

than 2,500 are in the city for the game. British consulate officials are today in urgent talks with police.

Trouble flared in the Teatro Massimo district in the bars and restaurants that line the square. …

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