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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 February 2007, 15:50 GMT
Italian football violence: Readers' views
An injured fan at the Catania-Palermo derby
About 100 people were injured during the Catania-Palermo match
The escalation of violence between rival fans and the death of a policeman last week has halted Italy's national sport.

As the government and football officials ponder the future of the sport, we asked four readers in Italy to give us their reaction to the violence and their opinions on how it can be stopped.

STEFANO FERRO, 36, VERONA

The key issue here is tolerance. Italian football authorities should adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards hooliganism but they are just too tolerant of illegal acts.

The problem of hooliganism has existed in Italy for years and nothing has been done about it. I am not confident that anything will really change this time.

There is a huge public outcry when a tragedy like the one that happened last week occurs, but nobody cares when the law is constantly broken.

I would love to bring my family to some of the bigger matches, but there is just too high a risk of us being threatened or abused
Robert Reis, Rome
There is also too much politics involved for any improvements to take place.

Many football clubs would like to cut out hooliganism by improving their grounds, but because most clubs don't own their grounds - most are run by the local city councils - they are unable to carry out these improvements.

My team, Juventus, would like to build a new ground but they have to wait and see if the money becomes available, as it is connected to Italy's bid for the 2012 European Championships.

I'm sure the league will resume this weekend, possibly with some clubs being forced to shut out their fans.

The dangerous supporters will stay quiet for a few weeks until people have stopped talking about this and will then return to violence. It's always the same.

ROBERT REIS, 49, ROME

Robert Reis
I have witnessed football violence in Italy at all levels.

For example, there used to be a football pitch in front of my apartment block and my family and I would shake our heads in disbelief at some of the punch-ups we saw during neighbourhood games between players, parents, and fans.

Because the threat of violence is always there, I avoid football stadiums like a plague, or at least I only choose to go to low-risk matches where I know there won't be violence among rival supporters.

I would love to bring my family to some of the bigger matches, but there is just too high a risk of us being threatened or abused by rival supporters.

That is why there are so many empty seats at Italian football matches - people are just too scared to bring their families.

Some organised "fan" groups are nothing more than brainless young toughs itching for a fight, and they don't care who they fight.

Italy has laws against football violence. The authorities just need to have the guts to enforce them.

I believe that they should punish the teams hard in economic terms in order to force them to pull their heads out of the sand.

Once teams begin to lose millions of euros a week because their stadiums are closed to fans, then maybe the team officials will begin to spend more on stadium security to tackle the hooligans, and less on their overpaid stars.

FABRIZIA COSTA BRENNA, 47, MILAN

This is not a football problem, it's an Italian problem.

Hooliganism and violence is simply indicative of wider social problems across the country.

We have many issues that have never been resolved, and this is just one of them.

A Catania player covers his face from smoke
There was trouble inside and outside the stadium last Friday
What's needed is a strong cooperative effort on the part of the government, the football authorities and the clubs to stop it.

The authorities should award the league to whoever is leading at the moment [Inter Milan] and forget about all football until next season.

Next year, any violence by the fans should result in their team automatically being sent to the bottom of the championship.

When there is a second violent incident, the team should immediately be demoted to Serie B, the second division.

Real fans would still go and see their team play, no matter where they're placed, and if this ends the violence they'd be happy to risk it.

Of course, I can't see the authorities agreeing to these measures as they would stop the flow of profit - and that's what it's all about to them.

FABIO ISGRO'D, MESSINA, SICILY

I have seen the problems of football violence all too often.

I am a supporter of Messina, the third Sicilian football team in the top division, Serie A.

I have witnessed violence between our fans and Catania fans, who were involved in last week's violence, many times.

In the 2000/2001 season, one Messina fan was killed in a similar incident to the one that claimed the life of the police officer last week.

Palermo and Catania fans have a history of violence towards each other. When they were both in the lower divisions, they would destroy whole sections of each other's towns on match days.

Non-Italians witnessed how prevalent violence is among some of these supporters when Palermo played the English club West Ham last year and there was serious trouble at the match.

However, the recent clashes between the fans from Catania and Palermo are part of what seems to be an ongoing struggle between the citizens of these two towns.

Every day, it seems, there are similar incidents.

It is this problem that needs to be addressed by the local authorities.




SEE ALSO
Italian football may make return
06 Feb 07 |  Football
Italian league halted by violence
02 Feb 07 |  Football



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