A correspondent who witnessed the melee reports that the incident occurred at the Kpirikpiri area of the town during the EURO 2016 second round match between Portugal and Croatia. Portugal won the match 1-0 courtesy of a Ricardo Quaresma 114th minute-extra time goal that sent them into the competition’s quarter-finals.
Trouble started when a Ronaldo supporter identified as “Marshal’’ celebrated widely as the Real Madrid star’s shot was parried into Quaresma’s path for the goal to the consternation of the Messi’s supporter named Obinna.
The duo had argued all night over the better player between both mega stars. Immediately Quaresma scored, Marshal rushed to Obinna and mocked him, chanting “I told you, I told you Ronaldo is the best’’. Obinna who apparently was reeling with anger pushed Marshal and a fight ensued which made others inside the bar to intervene.
Matters, however, went out of hand when Marshal’s friends felt that Obinna’s friends were indirectly aiding him in the fight, thus making the fight instantly a free-for-all. The bar owner, identified simply as Simon, rushed outside to invite people within the compound as those inside couldn’t control the situation.
However, calm was eventually restored but three persons, including Obinna were seriously wounded, while Simon immediately closed before the match could end. On the development, Simon said that both fans always argued on the issue of Real Madrid and Barcelona superiority. “I banned them from coming to my shop but this is their first visit since the commencement of the competition.
“It took the intervention of others inside the shop for me to allow them, as I was sure that their acrimony toward each other goes beyond Ronaldo and Messi supremacy,’’ he said. Dr Obiora Ike, a youth activist, decried the level of fanaticism being displayed by young soccer fans in the state, especially over foreign clubs and players.
“This sort of incident occurs regularly and one wonders why people should fight and disturb themselves over clubs and footballers who do not even know that they exist.
“It is time the relevant authorities should seriously address this issue before it gets out of hand and curiously, none of these fanatics has such sentiment for Nigerian clubs and players,’’ he said.
DSP George Okafor, the State Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, said that the incident had not been officially reported. He added that the command always dealt with such issues decisively. “Football hooliganism is a societal malaise as it is only foolish people who indulge in it,’’ he said.