Interior Ministry dismisses Depor and Atlético security chiefs after fan brawl

State secretary Francisco Martínez says clubs failed to pass on “detailed” information

Miguel Cardenal and Francisco Martínez.
Miguel Cardenal and Francisco Martínez.EFE

Spain’s secretary of state for security, Francisco Martínez, on Tuesday announced the dismissal of the security coordinators at soccer clubs Deportivo de La Coruña and Atlético Madrid following the battle between hardcore ultra fans that left one man dead on November 30.

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Martínez made the announcement during his appearance alongside Higher Sports Council President Miguel Cardenal to explain the facts of the case to Congress. He said Deportivo de La Coruña failed to pass on precise and detailed information about the members of its Riazor Blues ultras group, who were planning to travel to the match against Atlético in Madrid. This lack of “detailed” information, he said, prevented the police from carrying out a risk analysis and thus stopping the brawl, in which 200 ultras took part.

With the aim of ensuring that the death of Depor fan Francisco Javier Romero is the last, Martínez also announced that he would be putting in place a protocol that would bring together a set of unified rules that would allow officers to identify and deal with any incident of this kind.

During his appearance, Martínez explained that the Galician club had handed over 110 tickets for the match to its fan groups’ federation “without the knowledge of the police. Without those tickets, the radical fans would not have traveled,” he explained.

“Unconfirmed suspicions”

The Deportivo security chief, Juan Lagarda, had warned the police commander responsible for sporting events in A Coruña midway through the week leading up to the fight that a group of radical fans might be planning a bus trip to the Vicente Calderón stadium in Madrid, but he was not able to offer confirmation.

On the Thursday before the match, the A Coruña police commander forwarded the message to Atlético Madrid’s security coordinator, José Luis Díaz Vega, a chief inspector attached to the central government delegation in Madrid, and who is in charge of organizing security deployments around the Calderón. Díaz Vega is responsible for planning not only the arrival of rival fans, but also that of the visiting team, which receives a police escort once it enters the city, whether by road, plane, or train.

The time sheet he sent out on Friday, November 28 to all the units to be deployed around the Calderón that Sunday mentioned that there was only an unconfirmed suspicion that Deportivo ultras might be traveling to the match.

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