Fri, Feb 09, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Italy imposes strict new soccer security measures

AFP , ROME

The Italian government on Wednesday approved new security measures at an emergency Cabinet meeting to tackle the problem of soccer hooliganism .

The regulations come into force immediately following the death of a policeman during crowd trouble at last Friday's Sicilian derby between Catania and Palermo.

The government said there would be a firm implementation of the "Decreto Pisanu" -- laws introduced in 2005 to curb soccer violence -- and clubs failing to do so would be forced to play their matches behind closed doors.

These include adequate close-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, named tickets, automatic turnstiles, stewarding, and crowd filtering areas outside the stadiums.

"Stadiums not in line with the decree must play their matches behind closed doors," said deputy Interior Minister Marco Minniti at a press conference at Palazzo Chigi.

About half of the stadiums in the top two divisions are believed to fall short of the safety standards laid down by the Decreto Pisanu.

The government said fans founds with fireworks, flares or racist banners face arrest, while clubs have been told to sever any financial or working relationships with supporters' clubs.

The San Siro stadium, which is shared by Italian powerhouses AC Milan and Inter Milan, is one of the stadiums at risk of closure.

Work to install turnstiles cannot be completed until the end of the season and clubs could be forced to play all their home matches, including Champions League matches, without supporters.

The presidents of the clubs in Italy's top two divisions -- Serie A and Serie B -- would meet yesterday to discuss the government's new measures while the national watchdog for security at sporting venues will decide which grounds are unsafe.

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