Man held after police horse punched ahead of football derby match

A man has been arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty after a police horse was punched during a major operation to contain rival football fans during a south coast derby match.

Hampshire Police launched a football policing operation involving hundreds of officers for the Carabao Cup fixture between Portsmouth and Southampton on Tuesday.

Videos have been shared on social media of confrontations between fans and police with large numbers of fans being contained by officers as they were led into the stadium at Fratton Park.

Bottles, coins and smoke grenades are were also thrown during the scuffles ahead of the match.

One video shows a man punching a horse before being chased by the mounted officer before he is detained by other officers.

The match, which saw Premier League Southampton beat League One Portsmouth 4-0, is the first match between the two rivals in seven years.

A Hampshire Police spokeswoman confirmed that five men had been arrested during the evening.

A 42-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty and attempt criminal damage and remains in custody.

A 40-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of possession of a pyrotechnic and also remains in custody.

An 18-year-old man and a 19-year-old man were given a conditional caution for a public order offence and a 20-year-old arrested on suspicion of a public order offence was later released with no further action to be taken.

Assistant chief constable Scott Chilton said: “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.

“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.

Portsmouth
Mounted police near Fratton Park (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“As expected, due to the nature of the routes to and from Fratton Park, there were times where groups of opposing fans came into close proximity to one another.

“However, as a result of our careful planning we were able to keep these groups apart and get them to and from the stadium safely.

“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.

“I would like to thank the fans for supporting our officers throughout the day and for those who helped us during the planning process.

“Today everyone is talking about what happened on the pitch, not off it, which is exactly what we wanted.”

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