The death of a football fan in a pre-match ruckus that saw rioters marauding with metal bars and knives in Madrid raised tough security questions for Spanish authorities on Monday.
Radical fans on the fringes of four Spanish clubs apparently planned Sunday’s brawl using a mobile phone group messaging service, escaping police detection, officials said.
The clash ahead of Atletico Madrid’s 2-0 win over Deportivo de La Coruna drew 200 members of hardline groups linked to the two sides plus two other Madrid clubs, Rayo Vallecano and Alcorcon.
When it was over, 43-year-old father of one Francisco “Jimmy” Romero was pulled out of the Manzanares river having had a heart attack while he also was suffering from hypothermia and head injuries and died soon afterwards.
On Monday, 21 people were still in police detention.
“There were no indications that could have allowed us to foresee such incidents,” said Spain’s junior security minister Francisco Martinez after a meeting on Monday of the country’s Antiviolence Commission.
“They did what was necessary to deliberately escape the control of the police.”
A video camera captured the moment when a man identified by Spanish media as Romero — a member of the Deportivo hardcore fan group Riazor Blues — was heaved over the embankment into the river by his adversaries near Atletico Madrid’s Vicente Calderon stadium.
Medics said at least 11 other people were injured, including a police officer.