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Italian footballers face empty stadiums

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Italian footballers face empty stadiums


Italy’s footballers could get back to business this weekend but they face playing matches in empty stadiums following the government’s announcement of new security measures. Justifying the regulations, Interior Minister Giuliano Amato told parliament football had become one of the biggest catalysts for violence.

“It’s difficult to say whether this violence is generated elsewhere but it seems that football gives some the possibility to organise violence,” he said.

Only five Serie A stadiums meet current security regulations, although that number could rise to ten if away fans are excluded. The existing system of stadium bans for those found guilty of violence at matches would be beefed up to include the under-18s.

But the new measures have been attacked by Antonio Matarrese, who represents the financial interests of teams as president of the Italian football league.

He says hooliganism is largely a police matter and that soccer must never shut down. His comments on the day of the funeral of policeman Filippo Raciti have drawn sharp criticism from Romano Prodi who said Matarrese’s position was “unacceptable”.

The Prime Minister has also described Friday’s riots in the Sicilian city of Catania as a “guerrilla war”.

A firecracker which exploded in Raciti’s face was initially believed to be the cause of his death, but an autopsy found he was killed by a blow from a blunt object.

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