Liverpool insist the safety of fans remains their priority as they continue to assist in the investigation into the serious assault of a man before their Champions League semi-final first leg at home to Roma.
Two men from Rome, aged 25 and 26, have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a 53-year-old Reds fan was attacked outside Anfield shortly before kick-off.
The man, named as Sean Cox from Dunboyne in Ireland, was at the game with his brother and is believed to have been hit with a belt and fallen and is now being treated at Walton Neurological Centre where his condition is described as critical, according to Merseyside Police.
A JustGiving page has been set up to raise £5,000 for Mr Cox while the club – who earlier said they were “shocked and appalled” – have promised their full support for his family.
“The club’s first priority is the safety of all fans attending matches,” said a statement.
“Supporters attending a game should never be subjected to an environment of violence or attack.
“Liverpool would like to thank the emergency services and members of its own supporter base who offered care and treatment to the stricken victim in the immediate aftermath.”
Merseyside Police made nine arrests and of the five men from Italy, two are being questioned about attempted murder, one for affray and possession of an offensive weapon, another for possession of an offensive weapon and another for criminal damage inside Anfield.
Four others from the UK were arrested on suspicion of assault, affray, being drunk and disorderly and possession of a class A drug.
UEFA is awaiting reports before deciding on disciplinary charges but said it was “deeply shocked by the vile attack”, adding: “The perpetrators of this ignominious attack have no place in and around football and we trust they will be dealt with the utmost severity by the authorities.”
Roma issued an even stronger-worded statement, saying: “AS Roma condemns in the strongest possible terms the abhorrent behaviour of a small minority of travelling fans who brought shame on the club and the vast majority of Roma’s well-behaved supporters at Anfield after getting involved in clashes with Liverpool supporters before last night’s fixture.
“There is no place for this type of vile behaviour in football and the club is now cooperating with Liverpool Football Club, UEFA and the authorities.”
Reds captain Jordan Henderson, echoing the sentiments of both clubs and UEFA, posted a message on Instagram.
“The thoughts and prayers of all the players are with the Liverpool fan who is currently very poorly in hospital, after being badly hurt ahead of our game last night,” he wrote.
“He came to watch a football match and support our team – the only result that matters to us now is that he recovers and can return home to be with his family and loved ones.
“You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
Fans group Spirit of Shankly have expressed concerns about supporters’ safety for the second leg.
“The incident has raised questions about the policing and safety of Liverpool fans travelling to Rome next week,” a statement posted on Twitter read.
“We will continue our conversations with LFC, Merseyside Police and others to ensure supporter concerns are heard.”
Mr Cox is a former chairman of St Peter’s GAA Club in Dunboyne, where he is currently listed as treasurer.
“At this point we hope that Sean is receiving all of the medical care he requires and that he makes a full and speedy recovery,” said a statement from the club.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Sean and his family, and we hope that they get the privacy and space they need.”
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