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Two Chelsea fans stabbed in Istanbul

Two Chelsea fans stabbed in Istanbul ahead of trip to ‘Hell’ against Galatasaray as home supporters attack with ‘bottles and knives’
By Matt Barlow and Jack Gaughan and Oliver Todd

PUBLISHED: 19:04 EST, 25 February 2014

Chelsea supporters were the victims of two unprovoked attacks around an Istanbul bar on Tuesday night, with an eye-witness claiming the assailants were using bottles and knives.

The fans were a part of two separate incidents the day before the Blues’ trip to Galatasaray – the same area where two Leeds fans were attacked and killed in 2000, ahead of a UEFA Cup semi-final.

Neither of the Chelsea fans were thought to be seriously hurt – one has a wound on the hand – and neither required hospital attention. The club were made aware of the incident.

A 57-year-old fan, who preferred not to be named, was among those attacked and said: ‘About 30 of them attacked a group of ten of us in the main street off Taksim Square.

‘There were a few of them out looking for Chelsea. There were guys with bumps and bruises.

‘I think tonight (Wednesday) will be worse.’

Seb Owens, 22 from Putney, said: ‘We were walking down the main drag looking for a pub when a huge group of them attacked us with bottles and knives. We had to split up to get away so I don’t know how many were hurt.’

The club’s security experts will spend Wednesday investigating the incidents and speaking to fans in order to gather more information. Around 1,300 are expected at the ground for the last-16 clash.

Chelsea have to provide a report to UEFA, although it is up to the local police to deal with the issue primarily.

Dave Johnstone, spokesman for the Chelsea fanzine cfcuk, said: ‘I’d say 99.9 per cent of people we have met in Istanbul have been really nice and friendly. You can go to any city in the world and find yourself in trouble. There is probably more violence in parts of London.

‘I don’t want to generalise about all Galatasaray or Turkish football fans. There will always be the minority of people looking for trouble. My advice to those fans coming out today would be to be on your toes, be wary. Don’t go looking for trouble. Be friendly.’

Johnstone reports that he heard that a small group of Chelsea fans were ‘rushed’ and by locals purporting to be Galatasaray fans. He saw one fan who had been stabbed in the buttock, one with a black eye and another who had been beaten up. He described them as ‘walking wounded.

‘While Istanbul is generally a safe city and the police have not given any specific areas to be avoided (other than the Metro to the stadium on match day), supporters should be aware of pickpockets, petty theft and bag snatchers in crowded places,’ it read.

‘Care should be taken to keep bags and cameras secure and not to keep on show any other valuables. Supporters are advised to leave their passports in the hotel safe and use another form of photographic ID.’

They routinely carry out an advance inspection of all European venues with a club official in advance of games.

The Foreign Office confirmed it was investigating reports of the incidents which took place around Taksim Square.

‘We are looking into reports,’ said a spokeswoman. ‘We have had no confirmation of an incident. If confirmed we stand ready to provide consular assistance.’

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