There were serious disturbances in the center of Porto on Monday evening between the hard core of Antwerp supporters and those of the Ultras of FC Porto. Portuguese riot police shot rubber bullets to calm the crowd.
The riots were not entirely unexpected. The Ultras of FC Porto, the hard core of the Portuguese top club, were out for revenge. After the Champions League match Antwerp-Porto at the Bosuil, about two weeks ago, about twenty masked hooligans attacked the supporters in Porto’s away section for unclear reasons after the final whistle. The police then had to use water cannon.
Moreover, Porto has a past full of violence. After the Champions League match against Club Brugge in Porto (which Club lost 1-0), the Bruges supporters were attacked with stones and glass. Several people were injured. Last year in May, a sad low point in Porto history followed, when a 26-year-old supporter was stabbed to death near the stadium.
‘Be careful, the Ultras of Porto are going to look for “ours” to take revenge’, was the sound last weekend among the many hundreds of Antwerp fans who had traveled to the Portuguese port city for the ‘return match’. A warning that was also unofficially repeated in recent days by the Belgian police who traveled along and Antwerp itself. Officially they came to Porto with around 2,500 fans, but unofficially there would be at least 3,500, as many Antwerp supporters were able to get tickets for the home sections of the impressive Estádio do Dragão, which can accommodate more than 50,000 spectators at full capacity.
During a short but fierce fight, the Antwerp fans had to accept stones and flares. The Portuguese police intervened en masse and managed to arrest several dozen hotheads – mainly Antwerp hooligans. Portuguese media are talking about three hundred Antwerp hooligans, who first started throwing tables and chairs and then set off Bengali fire in a residential area. Police ordered shops and cafes to close early and a square was closed to traffic.