England football supporters have been involved in violent clashes with local police in Prague.
The ugly scenes erupted just before 7pm local time outside the Dubliners pub just off Prague Old Town Square when some Three Lions fans began throwing bottles towards armed officers in riot gear. A recorded warning was played in English before the Czech police advanced on the fans, who had taken over a small square in the city.
Stun grenades were fired by police as fans were forced back through a small archway and bottles continued to be thrown. About a dozen men were forced into a corner and made to lie face down, while another was seen being pinned to the floor nearby as officers secured the scene.
Lt Col Jakub Schor of the Czech police presidium’s national football information unit said: “Supporters gathered inside and outside [the Dubliners pub] and were getting more and more drunk. At around six o’clock, they started throwing bottles and cans of beer. I was almost hit by a can of beer. That’s when the police intervened and arrested I don’t how many people.”
Czech police later confirmed there had been a total of 31 arrests, including 14 “foreigners”.
In a separate incident around 40 Czech supporters from different clubs are said to have cooperated and attacked a group of England supporters near the Manes Bridge and tried to steal their flags.
The flashpoints come after England supporters descended on Prague ahead of their team’s Euro 2020 qualifier against the Czech Republic, in which they suffered their first qualifying defeat in 10 years.
Until night fell, there had been little trouble in the city, with police involvement limited to telling fans to remove flags from buildings. Hundreds of fans took over a small square in the city’s Old Town, chanting and drinking. One local resident fought back against the noise, producing a megaphone to protest from his second-floor window.
Almost 3,800 Three Lions fans bought tickets for Friday night’s game although more are believed to have travelled. The late kick-off time of 8.45pm and the city’s party reputation led to fears of a repeat of ugly scenes witnessed on recent trips to Amsterdam, Dortmund and Porto.
The fixture also coincided with a national day of mourning for the country’s most famous singer, Karel Gott, who died last week, with travelling fans told to be respectful of mourners.