SPANISH police fought with players from Peru’s national football team in astonishing scenes outside a Madrid hotel.
The footballers were trying to greet fans waiting for them when the violent scuffle started.
Local reports blamed the fracas on the fact some of the officers failed to recognise the stars as professional footballers and confused them with supporters in the bust-up.
A Peruvian fan could be overheard shouting: “Calm down, calm down, they’re players,” as tempers flared and the pushing and shoving threatened to boil over into a full-scale punch-up.
A spokesman for Spain’s National Police confirmed a Peru player had been arrested for allegedly hitting an officer in the eye.
The spokesman said he could not confirm reports claiming the arrested man was 33-year-old goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, who is believed to have been released after being taken to a nearby station for questioning.
READ MORE IN FOOTBALL
The incident happened outside the NH Collection Eurobuilding.
A police statement read: “Around 300 fans started gathering outside from about 7pm onwards.
“Some began to let off flares and officers from a rapid response unit called the UIP were called in as back-up.
“Just before 10pm local time the players arrived.
Most read in Football
“The fans tried to reach the players and the police got in the middle between the players and the fans to avoid an avalanche of people endangering public safety.
“A player was arrested for hitting an officer in the eye. He was taken to a nearby police station and the officer received medical attention at the scene.”
One local report said the problems had started after a police officer tried to push back footballer Yoshimar Yotun, who plays for Peruvian outfit Sporting Cristal, after confusing him for a supporter.
Police refuted reports saying several people had been detained, saying only one arrest had been made.
Keeper and captain Gallese, who plays for MLS club Orlando City, complained: “We wanted to greet the fans and they began to punch us.”
The incident occurred on Monday evening as the Peruvian team reached the hotel where they were staying after their last training session ahead of tonight’s friendly against Morocco in Athletico Madrid’s stadium.
Peru’s goalie could be seen showing off his torn top as he was pushed back towards the hotel entrance moments after he became caught up in the violent confrontation.
The Peruvian Football Federation said in a statement overnight: “We regret the incidents that occurred in Madrid where fans of the team had gathered in traditional fashion to wave flags.
“The Peruvian Football Federation is totally supportive and backs our player and captain Pedro Gallese and have accompanied him since the incident occurred outside the hotel where the team were staying ahead of their friendly against Morocco.
“We reiterate that we are respectful of the authorities and the procedures of each country that we visit.
Read More on The Sun
“For this reason we are at the full disposal of both the internal and external enforcement authorities and supervisory bodies to try to clarify what occurred.”
Urging their fans not to react in an inappropriate way in the coming hours, the federation added: “We call on them to remain calm and we express our firm rejection of violence.”
Source: Soccer - thesun.co.uk