Merseyside Police arrest two men on suspicion of attempted murder following incident before Liverpool-Roma match
Liverpool fan remains in critical condition after altercation before Champions League semi-final first leg v Roma; both clubs and UEFA issue statements expressing shock and sympathy
By Sky Sports News
Last Updated: 25/04/18 4:52pm
Merseyside Police have arrested two men on suspicion of attempted murder after a man was seriously injured before Liverpool's Champions League game with Roma at Anfield on Tuesday night.
Sean Cox, a 53-year-old father of three, was injured in the incident, which occurred outside the Albert Pub - close to Anfield's famous Kop Stand - where fans were gathering before kick-off of the semi-final first-leg match.
Detective Inspector Paul Speight said: "We believe the victim was in Liverpool with his brother for the Liverpool v Roma semi-final and was assaulted during an altercation between Roma and Liverpool fans near to the Albert pub at about 7.35pm.
"Witnesses report that the victim was hit with a belt and then fell to the ground. Paramedics treated him at the scene and he was taken by ambulance to Walton Neurological Centre, where he is being treated for a head injury. His condition is currently described as critical and his next of kin have been informed.
"The place where this incident occurred is right by the ground and was heaving with fans making their way to the game. I would appeal to anyone who has any information, or mobile phone footage of the incident, to contact us urgently, as information they have could be vital to our investigation."
The two men arrested, aged 20 and 29 from Rome, have been taken to a police station to be questioned by detectives.
A Liverpool statement on Wednesday afternoon said: "Liverpool Football Club will continue to work closely with the relevant authorities to establish an understanding of the facts, following a serious and disturbing incident at Anfield last night which has left a 53-year-old supporter in a critical condition in hospital.
"The club's first priority is the safety of all fans attending matches. Supporters attending a game should never be subjected to an environment of violence or attack.
"Liverpool would like to thank the emergency services and members of its own supporter base who offered care and treatment to the stricken victim in the immediate aftermath.
"The club would again remind anyone who has relevant information that will assist Merseyside Police to make contact via the channels identified by the constabulary. Click here for more information."
UEFA condemned the attack in a statement: "UEFA is deeply shocked by the vile attack that occurred ahead of the Liverpool FC v AS Roma match and our thoughts are with the victim and his family.
"The perpetrators of this ignominious attack have no place in and around football and we trust they will be dealt with utmost severity by the authorities.
"UEFA is waiting to receive full reports before deciding on potential disciplinary charges."
Merseyside Police have confirmed that seven other men were arrested following the match:
• A 38-year-old from Italy was arrested on suspicion of affray and possession of an offensive weapon and has been taken to a police station to be interviewed.
• A 28-year-old man from Italy was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage to a seat and for throwing items inside Anfield and has been taken to a police station to be interviewed.
• A 35-year-old man from Ealing was arrested on suspicion of Section 47 assault and has been taken to a police station to be interviewed.
• A 28-year-old man from Italy was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and has been taken to a police station to be interviewed.
• A 35-year-old man from Thurrock was arrested for affray and has been taken to a police station to be interviewed.
• A 40-year-old man from Kirkby was arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly and issued with a fixed penalty notice.
• A 42-year-old man from Stockbridge Village was arrested on suspicion of possession of a Class A drug (cocaine) and issued with a caution.
Trouble before Liverpool's quarter-final clash with Manchester City, which saw City's team bus damaged by missiles, saw extra police on hand ahead of the match on Tuesday.
Supporters flooded the streets around the ground and welcomed Liverpool's bus with a now familiar cloud of red smoke.
But Roma's bus was not sent down the same route as the home side, coming down the traditional route for Premier League matches and away from where the majority of supporters had congregated.