Tue, Apr 01, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Swedish season-opener called off after fan is killed

AP, STOCKHOLM

A Swedish soccer match was called off during the first half on Sunday after a Djurgardens IF supporter died from injuries sustained in an assault before the game in the southern city of Helsingborg.

Police said the the 43-year-old man was found “seriously injured” in central Helsingborg at about 2:30pm on Sunday and was taken to hospital, where he later died.

Local media said the Djurgardens supporter had been hit in the head by an object after rival fans started fighting before the game. His name was not released by police, but Swedish media said he was a father of four.

Police said no arrests had been made in connection to the killing.

The season-opening game between Helsingborgs IF and Djurgardens was called off in the 41st minute with the score 1-1 after angry Djurgardens fans tried to storm the pitch when word spread that the man had died.

The death overshadowed the opening round of the Swedish league season, which runs until November, with politicians, players and clubs all calling for an end to fan violence.

Fights between hooligans are still fairly common in Sweden, but this was the first fatal fan violence since 2002, when a 26-year-old man was killed during clashes between supporters of AIK and IFK Goteborg in Stockholm.

“The Djurgardens family is in mourning,” the Stockholm club said in a statement. “We can’t describe in words how we’re feeling right now.”

Helsingborgs also issued a statement on their Web site saying “we feel an enormous emptiness” over the incident and that “Swedish football is united in the fight” against violence.

Former Arsenal and Sweden midfielder Fredrik Ljungberg tweeted: “I feel sick” over the incident.

Henrik Larsson, the former Celtic, Barcelona and Manchester United striker who played for Helsingborgs in the Swedish league and now coaches second-division club Falkenbergs FF, told newspaper Expressen that the violence has to stop.

“It’s time we do something about this,” Larsson was quoted as saying. “We can’t send our children to the arenas and not have them come home again.”

Former UEFA president Lennart Johansson, a Swede, said dealing with fan violence is a matter for both Swedish authorities and European soccer’s governing body.

“The evil forces have to go away,” Johansson told Expressen. “We have to find clearer measures through a cooperation between clubs, police and authorities.”

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