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Friday, February 2, 2007

In The Shadows Of Mt. Etna, Italian Calcio Shamed Once Again

Tonight, in the eagerly anticipated Sicilian derby between Catania and Palermo, violence reared its ugly head. The game had to be halted in the 57th minute when tear gas, which was used to quell problems in the terraces, found its way on to the pitch. Apparently, Palermo fans were not allowed entry into the stadium until the 55th minute of the game.

When the game ended in a 1-2 to loss for Catania, criminals outside of the stadium rioted with the local police and other law-abiding fans. One policeman, a Chief Inspector, Filippo Raciti, was killed. Apparently, he was struck in the face by a homemade letter bomb. It was also reported that hundreds (0ver 70 police officers) required medical attention due to the riots after the game. Last weekend, in the region of Calabria, a Serie D team director was killed after a clash with rival players.

The latest black eye on Italian football was met with swift action. All Serie A, B, and C games will be cancelled this weekend. The Italy v. Romania friendly originally scheduled for next Wednesday will also be scrubbed. According to the Gazzetta dello Sport, twenty-two Catania fans, among them nine between the ages of 15 and 17, have been arrested. None have been charged with the homicide of Mr. Raciti. Another policeman remains in serious condition.

"FIGC (The Italian FA) President Luca Pancalli made the announcement this evening. “We will immediately set up a permanent round table commission to discuss the situation between sport and politics. It’s not possible to carry on like this. If this is football, then I’m stopping everything.”

In recent years, serious problems have occurred in Milan and Rome, along with other locales, that caused suspension of games. Along with several subsequent home games to be played at a neutral site. Now the problem has spread from the Italian peninsula to the islands. Unfortunately, it is always a few that tarnish the good name of many when these illegal situations occur. The last time the Serie A was halted occurred in 1995 when a Genoa supporter was killed before a game against AC Milan.


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