A group of Everton fans were attacked in a seemingly unprovoked attack in Lille city centre late on Wednesday night ahead of their Europa League game on Thursday.
Up to 100 hooded Lille supporters ambushed English fans drinking outside the city’s Australian bar close to 10pm local time after a peaceful day in the northern French city in which supporters of both clubs seemed to be getting along.
Police arrived on the scene within minutes to disperse the trouble with gas but eye-witnesses reported a number of injuries with some Everton fans suffering bloodied head wounds.
Early reports say the attack started when a group of visiting fans were smoking outside the bar and were attacked by an apparently-well organised group of French hooligans.
A doorman at the bar told the Liverpool Echo: ‘The atmosphere was nice all day. The Everton fans were singing, showing us their flags and having fun. All very respectful. In the evening they watched the Liverpool game and towards the end of that match it happened. It was bad.
‘The Lille hooligans just appeared from the Place Louise de Bettignies across the road, from a side street, and just ran at the pub. There were some Everton fans outside smoking and they got caught cold.
‘The hooligans picked up chairs we had stacked up outside and attacked them while others used them to smash windows and try to get inside.
‘We had to try and stop the Everton supporters inside from getting out to help because it would have got far worse. I went out to try and drag them in.
‘I saw one older English guy being punched by about three Lille hooligans. His face was bleeding badly. I am so sorry for what happened.’
Windows were smashed forcing the bar to be closed early as police waded in to quell the trouble, although some Everton fans complained of heavy-handed treatment.
TV commentator Sam Matterface, who will be covering the game for ITV4 on Thursday alongside pundit Clarke Carlisle, said: ‘Not a great night in the Australian Bar in Lille. EFC (Everton) fans claiming they were attacked . We walked into it late – blue lights, police, gas.’