Madrid: Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has called for an end to football-related violence as his team prepare to play their first game since the death on Sunday of a Deportivo La Coruna fan near the Atletico stadium.
The 43-year-old supporter had to be pulled out of the Manzanares river following what appeared to be an organised street battle between groups of radical fans known as "ultras". He suffered a cardiac arrest, hypothermia and head injuries.
Police, who have come under criticism for not doing more to prevent the violence, are seeking the culprits and the Spanish government and soccer authorities have vowed to banish ultras from stadiums and their surroundings.
Atletico`s King`s Cup last-32, first leg at third-tier Hospitalet on Wednesday is one of three Cup matches this week to have been declared "high risk" by a government anti-violence commission. Deportivo`s game at home to Malaga on Wednesday and Valencia`s match at Rayo Vallecano on Thursday are the others.
Ultras linked to Rayo were involved in Sunday`s fighting, police said.
Asked how violence could be eradicated from football, Simeone said he was "not a politician but a soccer coach".
"We condemn violence in every sense of the word and we hope that the people who are working on this can find a solution," the Argentine told a news conference on Tuesday.
"Hopefully, people will be able to go to a football stadium in peace," he added.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque added his voice to widespread condemnation of the troublemakers.
"I imagine that the Deportivo fans talk about football things, such as which player is going to play, but to talk about meeting up to fight by the river is difficult to fathom," Del Bosque was quoted as saying in Spanish media.
"And the same with the Atletico fans. I don`t think this has anything to do with sport and it seems they are using sport to make a greater impact."