Football: Two Italians charged over assault on Liverpool fan

 Liverpool supporters cheer ahead of the Champions League semi final against AS Roma.
Liverpool supporters cheer ahead of the Champions League semi final against AS Roma.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LIVERPOOL, England (AFP) - Two Italian men were remanded in custody on Thursday (April 26) in connection with an assault on a Liverpool fan before the Champions League tie against Roma as the club sought assurances over the safety of supporters for the return leg.

Filippo Lombardi, 20, and Daniele Sciusco, 29, appeared at a magistrates court in Merseyside charged with violent disorder after Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final at Anfield, which the home team won 5-2.

Lombardi was also charged with wounding/inflicting grievous bodily harm on 53-year-old Sean Cox, who suffered serious head injuries when he was assaulted before the match.

No pleas were indicated and the case was sent to Liverpool Crown Court, where both men will appear on May 24. The judge refused bail to the pair, who spoke through an Italian interpreter.

Cox, who had travelled from Ireland for the match, suffered a serious head injury after being attacked outside Anfield stadium. His condition remains critical.

Family members of the father-of-three, who have flown over from Ireland to maintain a bedside vigil at the hospital, released a statement through police.

“We are completely devastated by what has happened to our lovely, caring, Sean and all we want is for him to come home to his loving wife and three children,” it said.

More than 40,000 euros (S$65,000) has been raised through a GoFundMe page to cover his medical expenses and costs incurred by his family.

Sporadic trouble broke out in Liverpool city centre before the match as more than 50,000 fans made their way to Anfield, including around 5,000 Roma fans.

Liverpool said they had taken the “exceptional measure” of requesting an extraordinary meeting in the Italian capital, which will take place on Friday, with the second leg of the tie taking place next Wednesday.

“At the behest of Liverpool, club officials will join AS Roma, (European football’s governing body) Uefa and the relevant Italian police and security services to discuss specific ongoing concerns,” a club statement said.

“Liverpool have sought clarity on a number of issues surrounding the matchday operation since the draw was made and is hoping this extraordinary meeting will provide the necessary reassurances and essential information.”