Man arrested for punching police horse amid clashes between rival football fans
LONDON — A football fan has been arrested after punching a police horse during clashes between rival supporters and police at an English soccer match on Tuesday.
The Portsmouth-Southampton derby is one of English football’s most contested rivalries but because of the two teams’ differing success, it was the first time the clubs had played one another in seven years.
Amid the crowd trouble, one social media clip showed a fan appearing to swing at a police horse near Portsmouth’s Fratton Park stadium.
Called Luna, the horse wasn’t hurt and continued to work after the incident, chasing the man down a street before police pinned him to the ground.
“A 52-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty and attempted criminal damage. He remains in custody at this time,” said Hampshire Constabulary in a statement sent to CNN on Wednesday. The age of the man had previously been given as 42 by the police.
Ahead of the League Cup fixture, Hampshire Constabulary said it would run the “largest football policing operation” in the English county, with hundreds of extra officers brought in to help supervise the game.
Dog units, the constabulary’s mounted section and drones were all deployed to police the game.
Five arrests in total were made around the fixture, including one for possession of a pyrotechnic and three others for public order offences.
“Our priority was to keep people safe and I’m pleased to be able to say this morning that our policing operation has achieved that,” Assistant Chief Constable Scott Chilton said in a statement.
“We knew that the majority of fans wanted to enjoy this match without having to worry about their safety and we did want we felt was needed to reassure them.
“Sadly we had to prepare for the potential that a minority would try and ruin it for everyone else and this required us, in conjunction with both clubs and our partners, to put plans in place to ensure we were ready to stop that.
“I think the fact that we have had no reports of anyone being injured and only a few people arrested is testament to the hard work that everyone has put into this operation.”
Premier League side Southampton easily beat League One side Portsmouth 4-0 to reach the last 16 of the Carabao Cup.