Only 6 stadiums meet security requirements

February 8, 2007

ROME -- Only six soccer stadiums in Italy meet security requirements, meaning that league games in other arenas will be played behind closed doors.

The Olympic Stadium in Rome made the list drawn up during a meeting of security and sports officials Thursday, while the San Siro stadium in Milan did not, the Interior Ministry said.

The other stadiums deemed safe were in Genoa, Siena, Cagliari, Turin and Palermo. Arenas in Florence, Naples and Bologna were among the 25 considered unsafe.

According to the findings of security standards at the stadiums, five of Sunday's Serie A games will be played behind closed doors, while five will be open to the public.

Officials said, however, that further checks on the stadiums would be carried out in the coming days. The officials also banned all night matches in the Serie A and in the lower divisions.

Banning fans from arenas that are not considered safe and other security measures were prompted by the killing of a policeman in rioting during and after a Serie A match in Sicily on Friday. Italian agency and television reports said police were holding a 17-year-old person who was being investigated for the murder of 38-year-old policeman Filippo Raciti.

Sports officials halted all games immediately after Raciti's death, and the Italian soccer federation said Wednesday that league matches would resume this weekend.

The safety requirements at stadiums include having closed circuit surveillance cameras and turnstiles at the entrances.

A decree approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday also bans clubs from selling blocks of tickets to visiting fans and allows authorities to bar suspected hooligans from entering stadiums, even if they have not been convicted of crimes.

Other measures ban clubs from having economic ties with fan groups and stiffen prison terms for committing violence against police from five to 15 years.

The measures must be approved by parliament within 60 days to remain in effect. The Cabinet also approved a proposal for more long-term changes, putting club stewards in charge of guaranteeing security inside stadiums and involving the clubs in the ownership of the sports arenas, now owned by local authorities.

At least 38 people have been arrested, including 15 minors, following Friday's violence at Catania's stadium, where the local team was playing cross-island rival Palermo.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press