Rome: Violent clashes between Dutch football club Feyenoord Rotterdam supporters and police were reported by local media in the center of Italy's capital Rome ahead of a Europa League match against AS Roma.
Supporters of the Dutch team, including women and families, threw flares at police, who hit back with baton charges, according to Rai State television Thursday. A total of 23 supporters were arrested and some police officers were injured, reports Xinhua
Clashes were particularly violent in iconic Spanish Steps, in the heart of Rome, where the hooligans threw smoke bombs, bottles and all kinds of objects.
The Barcaccia fountain at the foot of the Spanish Steps, shops and parked vehicles were reportedly damaged, and waste baskets destroyed.
"We were forced to close. But we ask ourselves how was it possible that thousands of hooligans were let free to wander around the city without any checks," a shopper said.
"At some point it looked like a war," another shopper, Fabrizio Roscioli, said.
"We had to close because we were afraid. Campo de' Fiori (a square in central Rome) was besieged by a crowd of drunk supporters who fought and urinated everywhere. I am indignant," he said calling for more police presence in the Italian capital.
There was also concern that around 500 hooligans reported to be without a ticket to watch the match could attempt to enter the stadium by force.
A total of 1,300 police officers were deployed to oversee the area surrounding the stadium and the city center as well as Rome's stations and airports during Thursday's Feyenoord-Roma match.