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Assyriska fans riot at relegation match

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13:24 CET+01:00
Riot police were needed on Sunday to protect the referee in a play-off match between Assyriska and Bunkeflo, at Assyriska's home ground in Södertälje. A section of furious home supporters threw glass bottles and seat legs at match officials, while others invaded the pitch.

Assyriska's head of security Munir Rahvi blamed the referee for the tumultuous scenes.

Eighteen months ago the sports pages of Sweden's newspapers were full of the rags to riches strory of the immigrant club that had made it all the way to the top. Founded in 1974, Assyriska had quickly advanced through the divisions before making its debut in the top division, Allsvenskan, in 2005.

Assyrians all over the world followed the fortunes of the Södertälje-based club. Despite some impressive early results however the club struggled in the top flight and was relegated to Superettan this time last year.

Back in the lower division the club struggled to find its feet and last night found itself playing for its survival in Superettan. Bunkeflo's late equalizer yesterday in the play-off match's second leg was enough to consign Assyriska to the relative anonymity of life outside the upper echelons of Swedish football.

When referee Patrik Berglund waved his red card at Assyriska's goalkeeper, Christian Frealdsson, a group of supporters invaded the pitch and attempted to attack the leading official. Berglund fled to the dressing rooms with forty seconds of the match remaining.

"I didn't have time to be frightened. I just tried to get out of there as quickly as possible," Berglund told Metro.

When riot police arrived at the stadium Berglund was able to return to the pitch and allow the teams to play out the remaining seconds.

The final whistle was accompanied by a hail of glass bottles. One of the referee's assistant was fortunate not to be struck in the head. Berglund was later escorted from the stadium by riot police.

"I felt threatened. There was a bad atmosphere for the whole match," Berglund told Expressen.

Assyriska's head of security Munir Rahvi described not the fans' behaviour but the referee as "scandalous", blaming him for the scenes at the end of the game.

"The referee had a bad game. That was what caused it all," Rahvi told Metro.

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