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By ESPN Staff
Feb 4, 2007

29 arrested following officer's death in Catania

ROME -- Stadiums with inadequate security should be banned from hosting games next season, the Italian Olympic Committee said Sunday following the death of a policeman in rioting at a Serie A match.

Authorities said 29 people were arrested, while preliminary autopsy results showed the officer might not have been killed by an explosive device as believed.

The 38-year-old police officer, Filippo Raciti, died late Friday in the violence that followed a match at Catania against Palermo in Sicily. His funeral was scheduled Monday in the cathedral in Catania.

At an emergency meeting Sunday, the Italian Olympic committee (CONI) also decided to fund scholarships for Raciti's two children and urged clubs to break off relations with fan associations that are known to be violent.

CONI charged the Italian soccer federation with requiring stadiums to commit to security measures that include greater controls over ticket sales and seating, automatic turnstiles at entrances and closed circuit cameras.

The rioting outside Catania's Angelo Massimino stadium started during the second half. Police fired tear gas, which wafted into the stadium and forced the match to be temporarily suspended.

The violence continued after the game, in which Palermo beat Catania 2-1, trapping hundreds of fans inside the stadium as authorities sought to avoid further violence. About 100 people were injured.

Renato Papa, a prosecutor in Catania, said Sunday that investigators had discovered the remains of crude bombs as well as arms and drugs, and that seven more people had been arrested to total 29.

Papa also said that Raciti died from severe injuries to his liver, leading investigators to believe he was not killed by a crude bomb that was tossed into his car, but was likely hit by a blunt object.

The prosecutor accused Catania fans of ambushing police.

"These actions took place when the game was over and the Palermo fans were no longer there," Papa said. "The ambush was not against Palermo fans -- it was against police officers."

It was the second recent soccer-related death. A fourth-division team manager died on Jan. 27 from injuries he received when he tried to stop a brawl during a game.

Friday's rioting has left politicians unsure how to confront violence in soccer stadiums. Many have called for zero-tolerance measures, while others look to Britain -- a country that has largely solved its hooliganism -- for possible solutions.

The Italian soccer federation has canceled all games over the weekend, Wednesday's exhibition between Italy and Romania, and has threatened to extend the suspension.

Interior Minister Giuliano Amato and sports minister Giovanna Melandri were scheduled to meet Monday to discuss long-term measures. Amato, whose job puts him is in charge of the country's police, said he would not send officers to stadiums in existing conditions.