Chelsea fans go on rampage in Paris ahead of Champions League tie

• Dozens of fans involved ahead of Paris Saint-Germain match
• Reports Nazi salutes and racist abuse in St Denis area

Chelsea fans were involved in violence ahead of the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final in Paris. Photograph: Michel Euler/AP

Chelsea fans were involved in violence ahead of the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final in Paris. Photograph: Michel Euler/AP

Chelsea fans went on the rampage in a tourist area of central Paris on Wednesday night making Nazi salutes and smashing up cafés and shops.

Dozens of fans, many of whom had been drinking in a Frog and Rosbif pub in the St Denis area were pictured stampeding down a pedestrian street near the celebrated Beaubourg Museum and Les Halles shopping centre. Witnesses said several made Nazi salutes, shouted English Defence League chants and racist abuse before attacking Paris Saint Germain fans. Bottles were thrown at drinkers enjoying a mild evening on the terraces of nearby cafés forced to flee as the violence spread. Riot police quickly arrived, but a large group of fans ran off towards the River Seine.

BFMTV reported that the English “hooligans” were involved in battles with former “ultras” from Paris Saint Germain in the central Paris area of Chatelet, a major underground and district train junction. Two fans were reportedly hurt. Police said the two groups had been “looking for each other” with a view to causing trouble since Tuesday evening but had been kept apart by police.

The match was attended by the new sports minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem who was appointed on Wednesday.

Concerns about the possibility of violence had been reported in the French press earlier this week. Around 2,200 Chelsea supporters were expected in the French capital of which around 300 had been flagged up to police as “potentially dangerous”, said the website Spacefoot.com

Scores of known hooligans had been reportedly banned from leaving Britain Tuesday or Wednesday, but several had taken the train from Belgium to avoid Eurostar’s security measures.

The Guardian