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Rome police consider anti-Semitic angle in soccer violence probe

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(JTA) — Police in Rome reportedly are investigating whether anti-Semitism was behind violence that erupted between locals and British soccer tourists.

On Thursday, in an apparently well-organized attack, some 50 assailants wielding cobblestones, metal bars and knives attacked British fans of Tottenham Hotspur and trashed a pub in Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori square, a popular drinking spot where fans of the Tottenham Spurs had gathered, the Associated Press reported.

One Briton was stabbed and was taken to hospital. Several of the alleged attackers were arrested, but many escaped.

The Britons were in Rome to support the Spurs, whose fans are popularly known in the United Kingdom as yids –a pejorative for Jews — in a match against Lazio, an Italian team.

The chant "Spurs Jews, Spurs Jews" came from the north stand of the Olympic Stadium in Rome, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. Lazio fans also unveiled a banner reading "Free Palestine" during the key Europa League match.

Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno called for tough justice for those responsible for what he called a "terrible and disgusting" attack.

"The anti-Semitic hypothesis increases the seriousness of the aggression," he said in a statement.

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