THE copper slashed in the face with a bottle during the chaos at a protest by Manchester United fans is “incredibly lucky ” to have not lost sight in his eye, Greater Manchester Police Federation said.
The police constable, with around 20 years service under his belt, suffered a “significant” slash wound to his face during Sunday’s demonstration at Old Trafford.
The officer is “incredibly lucky” to have not lost his sight in the attackCredit: AFP
Officers struggled to calm the swathes of angry fans protesting the club’s ownersCredit: Getty
The unidentified officer remains unnamed by the Federation – which represents the force’s rank-and-file – but they did confirm he is in “lots of pain” and will need a considerable period off work to recover.
The largely peaceful protest spilled into incidences of violence, with Greater Manchester Police confirming two officers were injured – explaining one had been “attacked with a bottle and sustaining a significant slash wound to his face, requiring emergency hospital treatment”.
An estimated 10,000 fans gathered outside the Theatre of Dreams in protest of the club’s owners, the Glazer family, resulting in the Red Devil’s Premier League game against Liverpool being postponed.
Tempers flared between fans and police, with footage showing outnumbered officers desperately trying to stave off one mob who launched bottles at them while shouting “f***ing pigs”.
Six cops were injured during the riot – with one officer receiving a fractured eye socket and another dragged and kicked.
Both police and Manchester United have launched investigations into Sunday’s violent scenes.
A 28-year old man has been arrested as a result.
The violence was condemned by GMP and the club as “reckless and dangerous” as some football fans took the demonstration too far.
“Our brave colleague went to work yesterday to keep the people of Greater Manchester safe – and he ended up coming under attack,” Stu Berry, Chairman of the Federation, said.
“He is incredibly lucky not to have lost the sight in an eye. This is not right.
“Police officers are mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, and partners. They are sons and daughters. They are human beings who should be able to go home to their families in one piece at the end of their shifts. Not be rushed to hospital,” he continued.
“We are offering support to our injured colleague and will continue to do so as he recovers from his injuries.”
Tempers continued to flare throughout Sunday’s planned protestCredit: pixel8000
Images showed one man inside the stadium with a substantial cut to his face
Fans stormed inside Old Trafford and later breached the pitchCredit: AFP
The commotion saw the match scrapped and players holed up in their hotel rooms amid further safety concerns. They later left the premises with a police escort.
Berry also called for better equipment for officers on the front line to protect themselves during protests, following a spate of demonstrations that have turned violent over the last year.
“Our officers must be properly protected and appropriately equipped with public order gear – including helmets and shields – when policing these protesters,” he said.
Police were pelted with objects as they attempted to fend off the advancing crowds – with only their batons for protection.
In some shocking footage, glass shattered just inches from them and some were physically struck during the clashes.
“We are witnessing colleagues come under relentless attack wearing not much more than a flat cap and a high-vis jacket and with a baton to keep themselves safe,” Berry continued.
“Officers are not – and never will be – punchbags for people protesting for their cause. We have seen too many images of police officers at protests over recent weeks with blood gushing from their faces.
“How many more do we have to see? How badly does a police officer have to be injured before we do something?”
Furious fans wanted their voices to be heardCredit: PA
Protestors behaviour has been slammed by authoritiesCredit: AFP
Chaos erupted outside Old Trafford as crowds formed
The club was earlier forced to deny claims staff had opened a door to allow fans to gain access, explaining the throng of fans climbed the gates at the end of the Munich tunnel to enter.
Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly weighed in on the protests, saying although he “cannot condone” fans’ behaviour, he can understand their “frustrations” with football clubs.
“Looking at the scenes that we have just seen on the programme, there can’t be an excuse for that kind of behaviour,” he told Sky News.
“So I cannot condone the images that we have seen about storming the ground, but we do need to understand the frustrations that fans have, not just with Manchester United, but with a number of clubs across the game.”
The majority of fans protested peacefully, angered by the Glazers who have cost the club in the region of £1.5BILLION in servicing the debt incurred by their 2005 takeover.
For United legend and Sky pundit Gary Neville the protest was simply an expression of a the fans frustration with the way United has been run-down by the Glazers who he says should now do the ‘honourable thing’ and sell up and get out.
He was pictured fist-bumping a fan inside Old Trafford amid the chaos.
But National Police Federation chairman John Apter said the violence must be condemned in “the strongest possible terms” by football pundits, clubs, and players.
He said: “Yet again we’ve seen a so-called peaceful protest turn to violence with that aimed at my colleagues.
“Officers were injured and required hospital treatment. This is completely unacceptable.”
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