SPANISH SOCCER

How Depor ‘ultras’ got their tickets to fatal Madrid fan battle

Riazor Blues and Frente Atlético groups had not clashed in six years, security forces say

Graffiti commemorating Romero Taboada, by the spot where he died.
Graffiti commemorating Romero Taboada, by the spot where he died.PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

How radical Deportivo de La Coruña soccer fans got hold of tickets to the match against Atlético Madrid was one of the big unknowns about Sunday’s violent confrontation between hardcore ultra gangs from the two teams that left one man dead and a dozen injured.

It was the main reason why neither police nor the National Anti-violence Commission were able to stop 100 armed members of the Galician team’s Riazor Blues group from entering the capital to take on their Frente Atlético counterparts before Sunday’s match.

The autopsy revealed Romero Taboada died as a result of blows to the head and spleen

The answer, says police sources, was that Atlético Madrid gave the Galician club 100 tickets for the match through the president of the Deportivo fans group federation, which found their way to one Raúl, a member of the Riazor Blues who is now in police custody.

State security forces on Monday said there had been no violent incidents between the Riazor Blues and Frente Atlético in the last six years and that they did not know with certainty that radical Depor fans were traveling to the Vicente Calderón stadium on Sunday. These were the reasons that secretary of state for security Francisco Martínez and National Police director general Ignacio Cosidó used after an emergency meeting of the Anti-violence Commission to justify why the game had not been categorized as “high risk,” which would have meant a doubling of the security deployment at the match.

Deportivo de La Coruña president Tino Fernández, who was also present at the meeting, on Sunday said that club employees had warned the police that at least one coach-load of Riazor Blues member – in the end it was two – was traveling to Madrid.

Cosidó said the warnings they received were about the arrival of some fans groups, but not a bus-load of violent supporters.

Meanwhile the results of the autopsy of the 43-year-old Depor fan who died after being beaten and thrown in the Manzanares river during Sunday’s clash were made known on Monday. According to the report, Francisco Javier Romero Taboada died as a result of a “head injury with internal hemorrhaging and a burst spleen possibly caused by an iron bar approximately 2.5 centimeters wide.”

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