Eye witnesses on the highway south of Nicosia found themselves in the middle of a full blown battle Sunday night, when football hooligans fought each other amid flares and smoke bombs, followed by tear gas from riot police who managed to make no arrests.
Videos showing violent confrontations outside GSP stadium went viral Sunday night after an APOEL-AEL football match, with local media reporting cars were set on fire including a vehicle moving on the highway while one person was rushed to the Emergency Room with a head injury.
Fire Department officials later confirmed that a 25-year-old football fan was taken to Nicosia General Hospital while foreign nationals inside the moving vehicle in question had no link to the soccer match or the fight that ensued.
“The people inside the vehicle were foreign nationals who had no connection with the incident. A flare was thrown underneath the car which caught fire around the engine,” an official said.
Police said officers had to use tear gas to break up a fight between rival football fans, who threw flares, smoke bombs, and rocks during a confrontation that spilled onto the highway.
Videos recorded by other fans but also motorists inside their own vehicles on the highway showed agitated fans attacking each other using sticks and rocks, while flares were thrown in the area that started fires in nearby fields.
Police spokesperson Christos Andreou on Monday morning said no arrests had been made during the incident that unfolded in the dark.
Riot police made use of tear gas to keep angry fans away, according to Andreou, while some videos captured fans of one team attacking others of the opposite team as they were fleeing the scene.
"Some people ought to realize they should not behave in this way,” Andreou told state radio, adding that police were seeking out perpetrators who were able to flee under the cover of darkness.
Andreou also said all fans were inspected before entering the stadium and no illegal items had been found.
But additional reports suggested that the nearby facility Nuevo Campo futsal facility might have been used as a place to stash flares, smoke bombs, bats, and other items prior to the match.
Police said no suspect was detained on Sunday evening but arrests were not being ruled out on Monday as an investigation got underway.