Details have emerged of the exhaustive ‘anti-ultra’ operation carried out by the Policia Nacional against football hooligans.

The force prevented three separate groups of dangerous ultra fans from causing violence in the streets of Sevilla during the EURO2020 tournament last month.

Officers confiscated a variety of weapons, flares and fireworks and prevented a large-scale battle from occurring moments before it was set to begin, they revealed in a statement published on Tuesday.

Confiscated Ultra Items 1
Some of the items confiscated from the ultras / Policia Nacional

Four matches took place in the Estadio de La Cartuja, Sevilla throughout June, during which time the Policia Nacional and the Brigada Provincial de Información de Sevilla were vigilant for threats of potential violence and hooliganism. 

Spain’s match against Poland, on June 19, however, was known to be the real issue. Poland and Spain, Sevilla in particular, have a dark history with regards to ultra-fan violence between themselves.  

The beginning of their bad-blood dates back eight years to a violent altercation in 2013.

History

On August 23 2013, when Sevilla FC and Slask Wroclaw faced off in a UEFA Europa league match, violence broke out in the streets of Sevilla. After their 4-0 victory, 30 Sevilla ultras reportedly attacked and robbed 18 Slask fans. Allegedly the Sevilla fans wielded knives and a number of Slask fans were hospitalised. 

Two years later, before Manchester City played Sevilla FC on October 21 2015, dozens of Slask fans assaulted a group of Sevilla fans. A melee broke out in Manchester’s city centre resulting in four arrests: beer garden chairs and bottles were thrown in terrifying scenes in the streets. 

The feud runs so deep it seems, that the conflict has spilled over into other countries and even unrelated football matches.  

Finally, on November 2, 2016, three Legia Warsaw fans were arrested for attempting to rob a waitress in Madrid ahead of a Champion’s League match against Real Madrid.

As such, in the build up to the EURO2020 matchup between Spain and Poland, tension was rising and the Spanish intelligence services were monitoring the web for any potential threats.

policia nacional

Build up to matchday 

Through the exchange of information with the Polish Police Force, the Policia Nacional identified that a group of ‘violent radical ultras’ would be making their way to Sevilla from Poland. 

According to the specialised anti football-ultra police agency, the incoming fans had published on social media that they were travelling with the intention of exacting vengeance for previous violent encounters.   

Polish Ultras
Polish ultra football fans at the match, June 19 / from www.efe.es

Matchday

Due to the efforts of the combined police forces, a network of surveillance on the incoming ultras had been created in preparation for their arrival. 

So, the police in Sevilla were able to track the Polish fans from the moment they landed in Malaga airport, until they arrived in the Alameda de Hercules, which was buzzing in anticipation for the game. 

Indeed, the police also noted the presence of 40 radical Sevilla ultras who had congregated near the Alameda, clearly expecting the Polish fans. 

It seemed therefore, that a pitched battle between the radical fans was about to take place. According to reports, there was an air of foreboding and an unsettling quiet during the calm before the storm that would have torn through the streets, had the police not stepped in. 

Police intervention

Police officers prevented the battle from taking place by dealing with the groups individually before the situation could turn violent. 

They discovered that ultras from both sides had brought a number of very dangerous items, which were subsequently confiscated. 

These items included: knives, bars, metal bats, batons, clubs, dagger shaped blades of glass, flares, fireworks and makeshift hand-cannons (tubes with large quantities of gunpowder designed to fire projectiles). Some of the ultras had also brought balaclavas too. 

Separately, the police tracked a further 100 fans who had arrived in Sevilla from around the country: coming from Madrid, Malaga, Salamanca and Cordoba.

This “brotherhood” (hermanados) as they named themselves are suspected to have been ideologically motivated, intent on causing riots of some kind. The police have yet to disclose the true intentions and political affiliations of this group.

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