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Europa League round of 16 draw

Europa League
By ESPN Staff

Italian stars dismayed over stadia ban

Italy's players and club officials have reacted with dismay to the decision to declare all bar six venues closed to supporters on security grounds.

However, the country's interior minister Giuliano Amato has said he expects Italy's stadia to be fit for purpose 'quite quickly'.

Only five of the six stadia still open to spectators were scheduled to host games this weekend in the first matches played in the country since police officer Filippo Raciti was killed during last Friday's Sicily derby between Palermo and Catania.

Serie B will resume on Saturday with no spectators present and on Sunday only five of the 10 Serie A fixtures will have fans present.

Rome's Stadio Olimpico, Genoa's Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Turin's Stadio Olimpico, Palermo's Stadio Renzo Barbera, Siena's Stadio Artemio Franchi and Cagliari's Stadio Sant'Elia have passed the safety tests.

Siena are playing away at Cagliari but the other five stadia will be in use.

The rest of the programme will be played with no spectators present - even Milan's historic San Siro stadium will be closed for the AC Milan versus Livorno fixture where Brazilian striker Ronaldo is expected to make his debut in front of only scores of journalists, officials and club employees.

The Milan stadium, also known as the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, is one of the most famous stadia in world football.

Interior minister Amato hopes other grounds will soon be declared safe for spectators.

He told a meeting: 'I am expecting fields to be put in order quite quickly.

'Also because putting on tournaments is not the same as NASA putting men on the moon and also should not cost as much.'

Livorno striker Cristiano Lucarelli, top scorer in Italy in the 2004-05 season with 24 goals, said: 'We respect the decisions of the government.

'But we footballers ask that there is no discrimination between opened and closed stadia.

'Otherwise we could close down for another Sunday for more reflection.'

The players union, the AIC, have also expressed misgivings but has ruled out strike action.

Senior Italian policeman Antonio Manganelli, whose team drew up the list of which stadia met the right requirements and which did not, admitted the situation remained fluid and did not rule out a change.

In remarks reported by the federation website, he said: 'We will have other meetings.

'We have given our first assessment and in the next 24 to 48 hours we will make deeper studies to verify the suitability of stadia.'