Xavi: Fan violence may be unstoppable

A 43-year-old man lost his life in tragic clashes allegedly involving four sets of rival ultras before Atletico Madrid’s meeting with Deportivo at the Vicente Calderon

Barcelona midfielder Xavi believes it might be impossible for football’s authorities to eradicate the kind of violence that resulted in the death of a hooligan in Madrid on Sunday.

A mass brawl allegedly involving four sets of ultras broke out near the Vicente Calderon approximately three hours before Atletico Madrid’s La Liga clash with Deportivo.

During the fighting, a 43-year-old man reportedly suffered serious head injuries, was thrown into the river Manzanares and subsequently had a cardiac arrest.

Despite the best efforts of the emergency services and the staff at the San Carlos hospital, the Depor supporter was pronounced dead at 14:30CET.

Spanish football has been left in a state of shock by the tragic incident and Xavi has no idea how the game goes about trying to solve problems that he feels that extend far beyond football.

“I don’t know if there is any way to stop it,” the midfielder is quoted as saying by Barca’s official website. “These things should never be allowed to happen.

“I just want to express my condolences to the family and Deportivo.”

Xavi was speaking after his club’s 1-0 win at Valencia, which came courtesy of a last-gasp strike from Sergio Busquets and itself was not without violence as Lionel Messi was struck with a bottle from the stands after the winner.

Claudio Bravo made several fine saves during the game at Mestalla but Xavi felt Barca merited all three points, particularly as Luis Suarez had had a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside.

“They didn’t leave space open at the back, they were aggressive, they played on the counter, but we also knew how to impose our game,” the 34-year-old argued.

“We had clear chances, and Suarez has told us that his goal wasn’t offside, so we deserved to win. We looked for the usual things, Javier Mascherano and Busquets control counter attacks well and stopped everything.

“We controlled things pretty well and made the most of any mistakes they made to create danger.”

Barca’s win allowed them to draw back to within two points of Liga leaders Real Madrid, who made it a club-record 16 wins in a row by defeating Malaga on Saturday.