Policeman killed in football-related violence in Italy

Saturday, February 3, 2007

In Catania, Italy, a police officer has died as a consequence of football violence. In the hospital 40-year-old Filippo Raciti succumbed to his injuries. A small explosive device had struck him in the face. Several hooligans have been arrested but no suspect has been arrested for the death of Raciti yet.

Clashes erupted after the Serie A Sicilian derby between Catania and Palermo. The match, which started earlier because of public safety concerns, had already been interrupted once, after 58 minutes. After a controversial goal from Caracciolo (which may or may not have been offside), fans started rioting and tear gas drifted onto the field. "We had to go back to the changing rooms because we couldn't breathe. If we cannot get into our heads that football is a sport we cannot live in the world of football." said Palermo coach Francesco Guidolin reacted.

After 40 minutes the players were able to resume the match, which Palermo won 2-1. Di Michele used his hand to score the winning goal, which the referee didn't notice. After the game was over, aggression continued outside the football stadium, with dozens of injured taken to the hospital.

In response to the ongoing football violence in Italy and after this particular incident, Italian Football Federation commissioner Luca Pancalli suspended all professional, amateur and national team matches. He had warned about such a measure earlier last Sunday after riots in several cities. Catania chairman and owner Antonino Pulvirenti stated his intention to leave the football world. In a reaction to the events, Maurizio Zamparini, chairman of the Palerma football team, called for stricter football laws, such as in the United Kingdom. Italian prime minister Romano Prodi stated: "...we need a strong and clear signal to avoid the degeneration of this sport which we are seeing more dramatically and more often."

The day after the events, graffiti appeared in the headquarters of local newspaper Il Tirreno in Livorno and in the city of Piacenza, hailing the events as revenge for the death in 2001 of anti-globalization activist Carlo Giuliani. Giuliani was killed during demonstrations against a Group of Eight summit in 2001.


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