The violent cocaine-fuelled ultras threatening to tarnish Euro 2024

The balaclava-clad gangs are prowling the streets by stadiums waiting to attack anyone unprovoked

A new breed of football hooligans who are fuelled by cocaine and a bloodthirsty desire for their team to win are plaguing the beautiful game.

The balaclava-clad gangs are prowling the streets by stadiums waiting to attack anyone unprovoked.

This Eddie McKay and his son, who travelled to Milan to watch their team Newcastle United play their first Champions League match.

But the night before the game the 58-year-old wrote on Facebook he had been stabbed three times with a machete in the city by a group of eight men.

He wrote: ‘Me, my son and a friend were attacked going to our hotel. It was an unprovoked attack. Thankfully my son and his fiend were okay.’

The grandfather was hit on the head with a police-style baton and was repeatedly stabbed after falling to the ground.

He said: ‘They must have been waiting for people to come. I think I was attacked more because I had a black and white shirt on.’

The family were forced to fly home to be seen by doctors at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, missing the match they were desperately excited for.

Mr McKay’s case is one of many across Europe as ‘Ultra’ football fanatics clash with rival fans.

Newcastle fan Eddie McKay was stabbed by a gang of machete-wielding men wearing balaclavas in Milan (Picture: McKay)

The balaclava-clad gangs are prowling the streets by stadiums waiting to randomly attack anyone unprovoked (Picture: @ultras.addict)

Some of the gangs even post footage of their fights on social media.

Many train in gyms and practise marital arts in preparation for the fights, with a set of rules in place to govern the clashes.

Fists, rocks and knives are all allowed, but the Ultras draw the line at guns.

One leading member of the Italian Ultras is Marco Ferdico, the head of a diehard group of supporters of Inter Milan.

He has tattoos of Al Pacino on either side of his neck, one being Scarface.

He told Sky News: ‘This is our city. We don’t like you and we don’t want to see you if you come.’

Ferdico refers to his ‘deputy’ as the ‘minister of war’, who is banned from all football stadiums for 18 years after breaking the leg of a rival fan.

Nino Ciccarelli, another notorious Inter Milan ultra, told the Mail: ‘The English were the first to do what we do so there is some respect for that.

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Supporters of AZ Alkmaar fight with supporters of West Ham United (Picture: ProShots/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

‘There are always fights when they come, we try and get into fights with them.’

But it is not just Italian fans, Dutch and Polish supporters have also been involved in serious disorder.

Legia Warsaw fans threw flares at police and attacked their hoses while at Villa Park in November.

Damian Barratt, assistant chief constable of West Midlands Police, later observed: ‘The disorder we encountered was the most severe that a lot of us have ever seen.’

In anticipation of the fights, the Home Office announced more than 1,600 Brits will be forced to surrender their passports so they cannot travel to the Euros in Germany this summer.

Those who fail to do so and attempt to travel there face up to six months in jail.

England fans gather amid clashes with police ahead of the game against Russia in Marseille, France. (Picture: Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images)

Fans of Westham United and family of players fighting at AFAS Stadion on May 18, 2023 in Alkmaar, Netherlands (Picture: Chris Knoll – West Ham)

Chris Phil, the policing minister, said: ‘Violence, abuse and disorder have no place in the game we love.

‘We will have a zero tolerance for those who disrupt this event.’

But it is feared England fans aren’t the biggest threat – they are instead at the biggest risk.

Jack Stephenson, 28, is one of the latest victims to end up in hospital.

The Brighton fan was stabbed three times in the leg last month when a gang attacked him walking back to his hotel.

‘Someone punched me from behind and bust my lip open. It’s all a bit of a blur from there. I think I may have passed out. I remember being on the floor and seeing my friend coming towards me to help,’ he told The Mail.

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Police clash with Legia Warsaw fans before kick off (Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/Shutterstock)

Geoff Pearson, a professor of law at the University of Manchester, has been observing football hooliganism for more than 30 years.

He said: ‘Unfortunately, England fans are seen as legitimate targets. When they have been drinking all day, stone-cold sober hooligans turn up and attack them and they are easy pickings.

‘Local police forces often just aren’t good enough in terms of protecting visiting fans. They see them as a threat rather than being under threat.

‘I think it is only a matter of time before fans are killed in numbers attending one of these UEFA club matches, either as a result of attacks or, more likely, some sort of stadium disaster through poor safety.’

But England still continues to see poor behaviour from fans at home, with 2,264 football-related arrests recorded in the 2022-2023 season.

Some 682 ‘banning orders’ were issued last season, which is the highest number since 2010.

Recreational drug use has also soared, resulting in gootball fans mixing cocaine and alcohol.

In January, a Black Country derby FA Cup tie between West Brom and Wolves was suspended for nearly 40 minutes after a fight broke out between rival fans.

West Brom defender Kyle Bartley even removed his daughter from the stand, with unconfirmed reports saying players’ families had been spat at.

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