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Monday 5 December 2016

Irish soccer fans 'battered in attack by Portugal police'

An Irish soccer fan shows his injured ear after an alleged attack by Portuguese police in Albufeira ahead of tonight's match
An Irish soccer fan shows his injured ear after an alleged attack by Portuguese police in Albufeira ahead of tonight's match
Supporters Ciaran Redmond (left) and dad Tony, from Finglas, who weren’t caught up in any of the trouble

Irish fans have shown injuries suffered during an alleged attack by Portuguese police in Albufeira last night.

Nearly 3,000 Ireland fans are making the pilgrimage to the Algarve to see Martin O'Neill's men take on Gibraltar in the European Championship Group D qualifier in Faro tonight.

Although there have been mainly good-humoured interactions, some Ireland fans have expressed their anger after an alleged unprovoked attack by baton-wielding police.

"We came out of a pub and we were standing on the strip. There were loads of Ireland fans on either side of the road singing back and forward to each other," said Ireland fan James.

"The police came up to move fans. They were grabbing women and throwing them, they started pushing everyone.

Charged

"I saw one lad who was pushed and he fell and he just missed a pole.

"Then all went quiet for about 10 minutes.

"Something must have happened up the road because the police just charged at everyone. We put our hands up to say we didn't want any trouble. I got a baton into the leg, another friend was hit in the waist and another in the arm.

"I fell and got hit on the back. I ran and a cop chased me down the road and cracked me at the back of the legs again. I went down with my hands on my head and an Irish guy came and dragged me away.

"I lost my shoe in the whole episode and when I was putting it back on another cop hit me across the head. I am going to the doctor today to get it seen to.

"I was separated from my friends and a few other Irish looked after me.

"I could see two or three lads lying on the path.

"We were literally just standing there talking before the police attacked. It was extremely heavy-handed stuff."

A spokesperson for the FAI confirmed that it had sold 2,600 tickets to Irish fans for the match against Gibraltar but had not heard of any trouble on the main strip.

Portuguese police were unavailable for comment.

Other fans took to Twitter to express their anger, claiming that Albufeira police were the "worst" they had ever seen.

"Have honestly never seen anything like what I saw tonight. Absolutely battering innocent bystanders," said one fan.

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