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Monday March 31, 2014 MYT 5:42:40 AM
Monday March 31, 2014 MYT 5:43:35 AM
Helsingborgs' Henrik Larsson reacts as he is thanked by his fans after his last soccer match, a Swedish league match between Helsingborgs IF and Djurgardens IF, at the Olympia stadium in Helsingborg October 28, 2009. REUTERS/Scanpix/Bjorn Lindgren
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Former Sweden striker Henrik Larsson called on fans to take responsibility for combating hooliganism following the death of a supporter in his home town of Helsingborg on Sunday.
A Djurgarden fan in his forties died from head injuries at a hospital in the southern city of Helsingborg having been assaulted on the way to a game shortly before kickoff.
The fan, who has not been named, was treated at the scene by medical staff before being to a local hospital where he died.
The game between Helsingborg and Djurgarden went ahead as planned but was abandoned late in the first half as news of the fan's death spread around the terraces.
"What the hell are we doing? I mean, we're supposed to be going to football," an emotional Larsson told TV station CMore after his Falkenberg side fell to a 3-0 defeat some 60 kilometres away from Helsingborg in Malmo.
"Now there is a mother and a father sitting at home, crying their eyes out. It's awful. We need to get rid of it from Swedish football," he said.
The fan's death cast a shadow over the opening weekend of Sweden's Allsvenskan, which has been blighted by hooliganism in recent years. Many matches have been abandoned, with spectators invading pitches and fireworks and other objects thrown at players and officials.
Swedish authorities estimate that there are around 600 active hooligans in the Scandinavian country and they have been unable to eradicate the problem of football violence.
Djurgarden sporting director Bo Andersson, who was in Helsingborg for his side's opening game of the season, said the deceased supporter was a genuine football fan.
"It wasn't a hooligan, he was a regular supporter, a father of four who liked going to football," Andersson told newspaper Aftonbladet.
Tears welled in Andersson's eyes as he spoke to reporters while Larsson called on fans to take action to end crowd trouble.
"It's time for the supporters to take their responsibility too. They're happy to blame others, but take some of your own damn responsibility," he said.
The 42-year-old former Celtic, Barcelona and Manchester United striker finished his top-level career at Helsingborg before going into coaching and still lives in the area. He also questioned the wisdom of serving alcohol to supporters.
"I went through town (Helsingborg) to collect my son. At a quarter to ten in the morning there were a load of Djurgarden supporters waiting for the pubs to open. Should we open the pubs for these matches?
"Whose responsibility is it? Is it the clubs? Is it the supporters themselves? Or should society go in and take it?," Larsson asked at a news conference.
"It's time for someone to start waking up, because I don't want it in Swedish football, or in any football."
(Reporting by Philip O'Connor, editing by Ed Osmond) nL4N0MR0BO
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