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Friendly and helpful riot police

Dear Editor,

In December, I reported in the Algarve Resident on the heavy handed attitude taken by the police when Olhanense football supporters arrived at the Stadium of Light, Lisbon, for a league match

with Benfica.

We were kept in the coach for well over an hour and then 23 riot police were on hand to march 42 fans  – families, grandparents, children and elderly primates such as myself – into the stadium with no opportunity to meet the Benfica fans, who the previous season had made us so welcome with their pre-match hospitality.

I said, after our experience in December, that I would never visit the stadium again but the allure of cheap rail travel and a great deal on a hotel had me going back on my word.

Six of us met up with Miguel, an Olhanense fan who works in Lisbon, for the League Cup clash between Benfica and Olhanense.

We were the only visiting fans as far as we were aware and while enjoying a beer with a Lisbon family, I noticed we were being observed by a group of five police officers.

I approached them and introduced myself to ‘The Spotters’. This is a specialist unit who are responsible for intelligence gathering and keeping tabs on known trouble makers as well as endeavouring to ensure the safety of visiting fans.

These five officers could not have been more friendly and helpful. We strolled to our allocated entrance, chatting as we went and even discovered that the female officer was originally from Vila Real de Santo António!

They were also on hand to escort us back to the metro after the game and wished us well for the rest of our stay in Lisbon.

We thank them for carrying out their duties in a diligent and professional manner.

A refreshing attitude that just goes to prove that one bad experience should not colour our judgement.