Police intervene to prevent clashes between Chelsea and Manchester City fans in the centre of Madrid
The two sets of English soccer fans are in the Spanish capital for the Champions League quarterfinals against Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid.
Spanish police charged at English soccer fans in the centre of Madrid this afternoon, as drunken Chelsea and Manchester City fans confronted each other ahead of their respective Champions League quarterfinal second leg games, against Real Madrid (this evening vs Chelsea) and Atlético Madrid (Wednesday vs Manchester City.)
Spanish television channel La Sexta broadcast footage of tens of armoured police officers corralling Manchester City fans in one of the many bars that surround the plaza in a bid to prevent them confronting Chelsea fans on the other side of the square.
“It’s what happens when you have English fans and excess alcohol,” noted the reporter, confirming a deeply-held prejudice in Spain that soccer fans from England have a tendency to bring heavy drinking and the possibility of physical violence when travelling with their teams. The reality is that the vast majority of travelling English fans know how to behave and enjoy a trip away to support their side - as was seen during the Champions League final in 2019 with very few incidents reported - but often the behaviour of a few are all that is remembered.
Police on high alert in Madrid over Champions League games
The Plaza Mayor had had a festive atmosphere during much of the day, as large groups of Chelsea fans sampled Spanish beer and tapas in the build-up to their game this evening at the Santiago Bernabéu, with kick-off at 3pm ET, 12 noon PT, and 9pm local time.
Tension began to rise later on with the arrival of some groups of Manchester City fans, with some fans facing off against each other, although there were no reports of actual physical clashes, with the Spanish police stepping in to avoid any possibility of physical confrontation.
8,000 Chelsea and Manchester City fans are expected in the Spanish capital for the two games, with Spanish police deploying heightened security over fear of problems between the two groups.