Police hunt culprits after violence in England

LONDON: British police were Wednesday hunting those responsible for "large-scale" violence at a match between London rivals West Ham and Millwall, which revived memories of the hooliganism of past decades.

A 44-year-old man was in a stable condition after being stabbed in the chest and two other men were treated for non life-threatening injuries after fighting flared before Tuesday's League Cup match at West Ham's Upton Park ground.

Inside the stadium, fans invaded the pitch and interrupted the match while police and stewards attempted to remove them.

More than 200 riot police and 20 police on horseback battled to contain the violence inside and outside the stadium.

John Whittingham, who lives near nearby, said supporters were bombarding each other and police with anything they could find.

"People were throwing bricks but I haven't got a clue where they were finding them. Some people were trying to rip bollards off the pavement. There were also some small fires lit," he said.

A 19-year-old man said: "People were chipping bricks off buildings and throwing them at police. I saw one officer getting kicked as he was on the ground."

Television pictures showed fans bleeding from head wounds.

London's Metropolitan Police, which made at least 10 arrests, said the violence was "large-scale" and appeared to have been pre-meditated.

"It looks like there has been some planned trouble from fans," a Metropolitan Police spokesman said.

"We will be reviewing all the events, looking at CCTV both inside and outside the ground to identify offences and offenders."

A Football Association spokeswoman condemned the incidents as a throwback to the bad old days of English football in the 1970s and 1980s, when matches were frequently scarred by fighting between rival fans.

"We will be working with all parties, including the police and clubs, to establish the facts surrounding tonight's events," she said on Tuesday.

The spokeswoman added: "We strongly expect all culprits to be banned from football for life. They have no place in our game."

West Ham won 3-1 after extra time in the first match between the London clubs for four years. West Ham are in the top-tier Premier League while Millwall are in League One, effectively the third tier, and so the clubs do not meet in league matches.

The violence came in a troubled week for West Ham, whose defender Calum Davenport and his mother were stabbed on Saturday in a suspected attempted murder at the family home. The 26-year-old required surgery on both legs.

Malcolm Clarke, the chairman of the Football Supporters' Federation, said he recognised the serious nature of the crowd disturbances but called for authorities to avoid "hysterical over-reactions".

"It's not a good start to the season and it's important a full investigation is done, and the FA are going to do this with all parties to see exactly what caused this," he said.

"It's too early I think to start drawing too many long-term conclusions, but obviously this was a very serious incident."

He added: "I can assure you the vast majority of Millwall and West Ham supporters will be as horrified by events that occurred as everybody else."