A Spanish riot police officer died of cardiac arrest after clashes involving Russian soccer fans before a Europa League match on Thursday between hosts Athletic Bilbao and Spartak Moscow, raising concerns less than four months before the World Cup in Russia.
Basque Country authorities in northern Spain said the officer died in a hospital after the confrontations outside San Mames Stadium in the city of Bilbao, which will host matches in the 2020 European Championship.
Police also said a Russian man was injured but the extent of his injuries was not immediately disclosed. Five people were arrested - three Russian nationals and two Spaniards.
The identity of the dead officer was not immediately disclosed. Local media said he was a 50-year-old man.
There were conflicting reports about what caused his death, with some saying he was taken ill during the confrontations and other reports suggesting he was hit by an object during the fighting.
Spartak won the match 2-1 but Athletic advanced 4-3 on aggregate.
Earlier Thursday, German police arrested a Russian suspected of seriously injuring a British soccer fan during the European Championship in France two years ago.
"UEFA strongly condemns the violent clashes which occurred in Bilbao," the governing body for European soccer said in a statement. "We are in contact with local authorities to obtain further information on these incidents."
The Spanish league said it "deplores and condemns the death" of the police officer, and its president said he hopes FIFA and UEFA take action to halt fan violence.
"The Russian ultras shouldn't have traveled to Bilbao because of their history," Javier Tebas told the sports daily As.
The trouble erupted ahead of the round-of-32 match in the second-tiered European club competition.
Police were escorting some Spartak fans into the stadium but a stray group allegedly started igniting fireworks and throwing flares and objects toward Athletic supporters and police officers.
The fighting spread onto the streets near the stadium and police struggled to restore order. Many fans were seen trying to run away from the trouble as fireworks exploded all around.
There was concern ahead of the match because of the reported presence of 'Ultra' Russian fans in Bilbao, and a large police force was deployed to try to prevent fan trouble.
There were reports of other minor clashes involving Russian fans in Bilbao for Thursday's match.
Six years ago a fan died in Bilbao in clashes after a match between Athletic and German club Schalke.
The light went out in Davide Astori's hotel room just after 11:30 p.m. on Saturday. To that point, it had been as ordinary and unremarkable an evening as any in the life of a professional footballer playing away from home.
Arrive at a generic business hotel on the outskirts of town. Unpack what little one brings for a single night on the road. Have some team meetings, a team dinner. Go back to the room -- as team captain and one of the older players, there's no roommate -- and set up the PlayStation. A teammate (goalkeeper Marco Sportiello) joins to play for an hour or so. Then he leaves, says goodnight, knowing he'll be keeping watch from the back the next day when Fiorentina team take on Udinese.
Settle into bed. Maybe, before sleep, there's a thought about the good fortunes of life; Astori made a family with Francesca and had been gifted a two-year old daughter, Vittoria, whom he'd have been hugging and kissing again less than 24 hours later upon returning home to Florence. How fortunate it is to be playing football for a living and not just playing it, but playing it really well, well enough to win 14 Italy caps and spend a decade in Serie A. Astori has said as much: "I really love my job. I love football. I love it more now and I enjoy it more than I did when I was 18."
But then, Astori didn't wake up. The team masseur was summoned to find him the following morning when he didn't show up for breakfast. It was unlike him; as captain, he was often the first one there.
The sudden death of Astori, Fiorentina captain, at 31 years of age shocked European football on Sunday morning. The remaining Serie A fixtures to be played later that day were postponed. The initial medical report spoke of "cardiocirculatory arrest," and an autopsy may or may not reveal more. Either way, he joins the list of professional footballers suddenly taken from us in the midst of their playing careers, a list that includes Espanyol's Dani Jarque, Perugia's Piermario Morosini, Sevilla's Antonio Puerta, Cameroon's Marc-Vivien Foe, Motherwell's Phil O'Donnell and others.
It's an uncomfortable list because these are professional athletes who make a living with their bodies, receive the highest possible medical care and are regularly subject to the most meticulous screenings.
And yet, they die. Suddenly and sometimes seemingly without explanation, beyond the mere cruel fact that life is a gift that can be revoked at any moment. For all our scientific advances, knowledge packed behind white coats and medical analysis, and even the awe we bestow on technology and medicine to keep us alive, we haven't mastered death.
It can come at any moment. It's a thought that ought to humble us.
Death is difficult to accept, and truth be told, we can be humbled without accepting it. We owe it to ourselves as humans to strive on, do everything within our power to understand what happened and do our utmost to ensure it doesn't happen again. We need to rage against this dying of the light even as we know we may not be able to find answers, let alone win in the end.
In this instance, we're left with the tragedy of a young woman robbed of her soulmate and who has to raise a two-year-old child who will never see her father ever again. There are countless friends and family left to grieve for a man who was universally admired, in the words of his Italy teammate Gigi Buffon, as an example of "selflessness, elegance, manners and respect towards others."
The example Astori set on the pitch and in his daily life as a son, father, friend and teammate will live on, at least for those who knew him. For those who didn't, maybe there's some inspiration to be found in that quote, which bears repeating: "I really love my job. I really love football. I love it more now and I enjoy it more now than I did when I was 18."
The light doesn't need to go out on that thought, the simple joy of a man who loved what he did and loved it and appreciated it more as he got older.
Rest in peace, Davide Astori.