Isolate hooligans or risk ban, CONI tell clubs


  • Other Sport
  • Tuesday, 06 Feb 2007

ROME: Stadiums which fail to adopt tough anti-hooliganism measures could be banned from staging football games next season, Italy’s top sporting body said on Sunday following the recent death of a policeman in post-match riots. 

At an emergency meeting after all football in Italy was suspended indefinitely, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) also urged clubs to break off all relations with violent fans. 

Stunned by the bloodshed at Friday’s top-flight derby match between Catania and Palermo in Sicily, officials will hold off on deciding how long the suspension will last until after a meeting with the government on Monday. 

Italian newspapers said the government is now pondering keeping the suspension in place for at least two weeks and holding matches behind closed doors thereafter. 

“If the attack was extraordinary, the response has to be extraordinary as well,” Interior Minister Giuliano Amato told La Repubblica newspaper.  

“The fans are risking the possibility of never seeing football again – of being without football forever, with stadiums empty and barred.” 

Football stadiums across football-mad Italy were silent for the second day in a row with all matches from children’s leagues to the national team’s friendly against Romania on Wednesday cancelled. 

Sunday’s meeting by CONI, which was less conclusive than some commentators had wanted, followed national outrage over the death of policeman Filippo Raciti on Friday. 

Although brawls at stadiums are common, images of hundreds of hooded fans chasing police and hurling flares shocked a nation basking in the glow of last year’s World Cup victory after the indignation of a domestic match-fixing scandal. 

A firecracker exploded in Raciti’s face, which was initially considered the cause of death, though a prosecutor on Sunday said an autopsy showed it was due to a blow from a blunt object. More than 70 people were injured. 

In a sign of mourning, city-wide festivities for the feast of Catania’s patron Saint Agatha were scaled down. Many residents had called for the whole feast to be scrapped. 

The shock went far beyond Sicily. 

A day after the riots, anti-police graffiti was scrawled on walls in Rome and the northern Italian town of Livorno – widely attributed to radical football supporters called “ultras” who have resisted any measures to control their behaviour. 

Raciti was the 13th person to be killed in or around Italy’s football stadiums since 1962. 

The last fatality at a top-flight match was in 1995 when a Genoa fan was stabbed to death before a game against AC Milan.  

The championship was suspended for day at the time. – Reuters 

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