Eritrean Cycle Festival: Police Condemn 'Appalling' Violence That Marred End Of Sporting Event

Steven Hopkins
Eight men were arrested after a violent protest at Curzon Ashton’s Tameside Stadium in Ashton-under-Lyne on Saturday

Up to 30 protesters stormed a cycling festival in Greater Manchester on Saturday in an “appalling” display of violence that led to eight arrests.

Greater Manchester Police said nine people were hurt after the protesters began throwing bottles, food and beer kegs at the Eritrean event at Curzon Ashton’s Tameside Stadium.

The Eritrean Cycle Festival was attended by hundreds of people, with singing, dancing and appearances from cyclists who appeared at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo and the 1960 Games in Rome.

It is thought the demonstrators were protesting against the Eritrean government and event organisers said their actions put young children in danger. 

Organiser Goitom Seyoum told the BBC the event had “nothing to do with politics” and was simply a celebration of Eritrean cycling.

The 48-year-old said: “We had African champions here and people who appeared at the Olympics.

“It was a peaceful protest at first and then they barged in throwing bottles, food and beer kegs.

“It was outrageous - there were children in buggies and people cut and bleeding.

“This was supposed to be a festival but now we leave with a sad feeling. Young children were put in danger by these cowards.”

The arrested men were held on suspicion of public order offences after riot police were called to the stadium in Ashton-under-Lyne.

Chief Inspector Andy Harty said: “The vast majority of people attending the event today were innocent people, including children, who sadly got caught in the middle of this appalling act of violence.

“This type of behaviour is completely unacceptable and I want to assure the residents of Tameside that we are doing everything we can to bring any offenders to justice.”