One of the largest Italian football police operations will attempt to prevent extremist Ultras attacking more Liverpool fans when the club arrive for Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg.
Police chiefs will deploy 2 000 officers — more than has been known for any visiting side in recent times — amid intelligence reports that a lunatic fringe of the club’s Ultras are somehow seeking to avenge Roma’s loss to Liverpool in the 1984 European Cup final and subsequent clashes on that night.
Liverpool also launched an unprecedented level of instructions to help keep their expected 3,500 travelling fans safe.
The club detailed specific stations, buses and congregating places to stick to and urged fans to ‘respect monuments of national importance with a particular emphasis placed on not hanging banners and/or scarves on fountains and statues’.
The club stated that on matchdays ‘under no circumstances should supporters attempt to walk’ and that they should avoid areas in the north of the city.
Liverpool have been deeply frustrated by the lack of information from the Italian authorities, whom they will see at a pre-match planning meeting.
Police in the Italian capital will be at full stretch this week. There are concerns that a huge May Day festival could create potential for clashes between fans of the two teams.
The prospects of Liverpool fans being attacked near the stadium are remote, though British police sources have told Sportsmail maintaining safety further afield is extremely difficult in Rome.
The first images emerged last night of the two Ultras accused of attacking Liverpool fan Sean Cox, who remains critically ill after a brain haemorrhage.
Student Filippo Lombardi, 20, and Daniele Sciusco, a 29-year-old pharmacy worker, were members of a 200-strong contingent of the violent Fedayn Ultras group who travelled to Merseyside. An estimated 30 Fedayn were ticket-holders at the first leg, which Liverpool won 5-2.
The accused pair’s lawyer Lorenzo Contucci, who has represented hundreds of Italian football fans since the 1970s, told Sportsmail: ‘I wouldn’t say it was a premeditated attack. But some fans, (including) English fans, don’t go out looking for trouble but if they find it they don’t back away from it. If (the police) allow away fans to come to the Kop (without segregating them), all it takes is for one person to say something stupid and a fight breaks out.’
Bizarre possible motives for Ultras attacking Liverpool fans last week include some Italian hooligans’ desire to prove a point because the national team have not qualified for the World Cup in Russia.
Ultras expert Alberto Testa, a professor in criminology at the University of West London, said: ‘Not being at the World Cup means they cannot demonstrate they are tough. There is an unofficial championship of hooliganism. Who is the highest? The English have that reputation.’