Champions Cup Fans Turn Violent

Thursday, May 25th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MADRID, Spain (AP) — The prized European Champions Cup returned to Madrid — and so did fan violence.

An estimated 100,000 people converged on Madrid's Cibeles square at midnight Wednesday to celebrate Real Madrid's record eighth European Champions Cup title, but the jubilation lasted about an hour before turning violent.

Riot police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

A spokesman for Madrid's Samur ambulance service said 230 people were treated for injuries, including 55 police officers. None was in serious condition. Ten people were arrested.

Police blamed approximately 10 fans who tried to break through a security cordon and mount the Cibeles fountain monument that lies in the center of the square. The monument has traditionally been a place of celebration for Real Madrid supporters.

Real Madrid defeated fellow Spanish club Valencia 3-0 Wednesday to win the title. It was the first Champions Cup final pitting teams from the same country.

The last time Madrid won the Cup, in 1998, about 200 people were injured when similar celebrations turned violent.

The disturbances contrasted with peaceful celebrations in Paris, where about 50,000 Spaniards had gone to watch the match.

In recent years, Madrid authorities have refused to let fans near the statue — which features a goddess in a lion-drawn chariot holding the keys to the city — for fear they will damage it.

``Two Spanish teams have shown in Paris the best side of soccer. What a shame the overnight incidents in Cibeles marred the festivities,'' read an editorial in the newspaper El Pais.

Tens of thousands of fans were expected to gather again at Cibeles tonight to greet Real Madrid as it returns from Paris with the trophy.