VIOLENCE IN SPORT

41 arrests over street fight that ended in death of soccer hooligan

Two of the detainees are believed to have beaten victim before he was thrown into river

Fans of Deportivo Coruña pay tribute to the man who died in the street fight.
Fans of Deportivo Coruña pay tribute to the man who died in the street fight.SANCHOFOTO / DIARIO AS

Forty-one people were arrested Tuesday morning for their alleged participation in a street fight between soccer hooligans that ended with the death of one man on November 30.

Among the detainees are two of the individuals who allegedly beat the victim.

Francisco Javier Romero Taboada, 43, died after taking part in a violent clash between radical followers of Deportivo de La Coruña (Galicia) and Atlético de Madrid, on the banks of the capital’s Manzanares River.

All of the detainees are members of Frente Atlético, the Madrid team’s hardcore fan section

After being beaten, Taboada – a member of Riazor Blues, Deportivo’s hardcore fan group — was thrown over the handrail and into the river, where he reportedly struggled to keep afloat for 20 minutes but went into cardiac arrest before he could be treated by an ambulance crew.

All of the detainees are members of Frente Atlético, the Madrid team’s hardcore fan section. The police raid took place simultaneously in Madrid, Ávila and Toledo, where officers were conducting numerous house searches, sources said.

More information

Operation Neptune began on the same day that Romero Taboada died in a confrontation that had been years in the making, due not just to sports rivalries but also to ideological differences: the Galician fans were radical leftists while the Madrid group was made up of right-wing extremists.

Each side brought more than 100 men to a spot near the Vicente Calderón stadium, home to Atlético de Madrid, where the match was scheduled to take place that evening. Participants were armed with crowbars, bats and knuckle dusters, and by the time the fight was over there was one fatality and dozens of injuries.

Police said on Tuesday that the arrests are just the beginning, and that they intend to detain everyone who took part in the street fight.

The match had been described as “low risk” by the Sports Anti-Violence Committee because most hardcore fans had bought their tickets through associations to bypass security checks. Between 20 and 30 percent of these violent soccer fans have previous convictions, according to police sources.

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