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By ESPN Staff

Stadium ban for Catania for rest of season

ROME, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Catania have been ordered to play the rest of their home matches this season at neutral venues and behind closed doors as punishment for the violence that killed a policeman at a Serie A match this month.

The ban on the Massimino Stadium, which was handed down by the disciplinary committee of the Italian Football League on Wednesday, will last until June 30.

Catania were also fined 50,000 euros ($65,270).

Italian policeman Filippo Raciti was killed outside the ground during rioting by hard-core ultra fans at the Sicilian derby with Palermo on Feb. 2.

A statement on the Football League's Web site said the ban reflected 'the gravity of the events and the real danger posed by these acts of violence' that had left an 'indelible mark in the memory and the collective consciousness'.

The punishment also took into consideration 'the absolute uselessness of sanctions already inflicted on Catania for previous acts of violence by its supporters.'

Last September the club was fined and ordered to play two matches behind closed doors after its fans fought with supporters of Messina and Palermo.

The club's chief executive attacked the severity of ban, saying the sentence would 'bring the city to its knees'.

'It was clear that our responsibility was limited by the fact that the violence happened outside the ground,' Italy's ANSA news agency quoted Pietro Lo Monaco as saying.

Catania's next two Serie A matches - against Fiorentina on Feb.18 and Inter Milan on Feb. 25 - are home fixtures.

The first will be played at the Neri stadium in Rimini. The second at Cesena's Manuzzi stadium. Both venues are in Italy's northern Emilia-Romagna region, approximately 650 miles from Catania.