Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Riots Erupt on Dark Day for Football

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Riots Erupt on Dark Day for Football

Article excerpt


Hundreds of fans angry over the shooting death of a Lazio fan raided the headquarters of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) in Rome last night, writes CINDY GARCIA-BENNETT.

The 26-year-old supporter, a disc jockey named Gabriele Sandri, was shot at a motorway service station near Arezzo as police attempted to intervene to quell trouble and a police spokesman all but confirmed media reports the fatal bullet came from a police weapon.

Roma's evening match with Cagliari was called off after the Eternal City club asked for it to be put back out of respect for Sandri, but an angry mob turned up at the Stadio Olimpico. Some of them armed with stones and sticks attacked one of the police units in the vicinity of the stadium before raiding the CONI building itself.

The CONI security guards, who were unarmed, had to barricade themselves inside the building while waiting for back-up.

Earlier, the match between Atalanta and AC Milan in Bergamo was abandoned after seven minutes because of crowd disturbances. The incidents came nine months after policeman Filippo Raciti was killed during crowd trouble surrounding the Sicilian derby match between Catania and Palermo.

That led to draconian security measures adopted by the Italian government with numerous stadia closed until they made improvements to ensure better security. The Italian government also created an independent body, L'Osservatorio nazionale sulle manifestazione sportive, to clamp down on football violence and gave it powers to call games off or ban fans from attending.

Vincenzo Giacobbe, head of police at Arezzo where the latest incident took place, confirmed a man had died and did not deny media reports the fatal bullet had come from a police weapon.

"This is a tragic mistake," he said. "Our agent had intervened to prevent the fracas between two groups of people - that had not been considered fans - degenerating into a situation with serious consequences for both groups. …

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