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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 12, 2007

Italian minister calls for long calcio lay-off

A series of meetings in Rome to discuss Sunday's day of violence across Serie A ended with the country's sports minister calling for Italian football to be suspended.

Giovanna Melandri met with Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) president Gianni Petrucci and Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Giancarlo Abete, after which she demanded considerable action be taken.

'A decision has to be taken to make a significant gesture,' said Melandri.

'I expect the football world to make the right decision, such as halting the tournament for several weeks.'

There are no games in Serie A this weekend due to the latest batch of Euro 2008 qualifiers with the domestic league scheduled to resume on the weekend of November 24 and 25.

Further talks are planned for Tuesday at which a definitive decision is expected on the way to proceed.

Sunday was another dark day for Italian football.

Lazio fan Gabriele Sandri, a 26-year-old disc jockey, was accidentally shot dead by police as they attempted to quell trouble between fans of the Biancoceleste and Juventus at a motorway service station near Arezzo.

News of the shooting prompted violence on the terraces at the game between Atalanta and AC Milan in Bergamo while, later in the day, fans in Rome armed with batons and stones attacked one of the police units in the vicinity of the Stadio Olimpico before raiding the CONI headquarters.

The policeman involved in Sandri's shooting is being investigated for manslaughter. He spoke of his distress today.

'I didn't look at anything, I didn't point my gun at anyone. I was at least 200 metres away, how could I have done that?' the unnamed officer told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

'The first shot I fired was in the air and the second was fired when I was running, it was an accident. I know now, this is the end for me.

'I have destroyed two families, that of the man and mine.'

After expressing his sympathy to Sandri's family, Italy coach Roberto Donadoni revealed his disgust at the way hooligans used the situation to wreak havoc in Bergamo and Rome.

'What has happened in Bergamo and in Rome is pure madness,' said Donadoni.

'It's one of those situations where you feel sick and you wish you could throw it all out. I believe that we are hostages of this violence, but you cannot be a slave in this manner.'

AC Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf insisted the violence was borne out of frustration within Italian society as a whole and should not be viewed as solely a football problem.

The Dutchman told Sky Sports News: 'The government is using football for the problems in Italian society.

'They should think about shutting down the government for a couple of weeks.'

Seedorf feels not enough was done following the killing of policeman Filippo Raciti after violence broke out at the Sicilian derby match between Catania and Palermo nine months ago.

'The situation following the Catania riots has not changed,' he added.

'They (the government) cannot blame football every time.

'The people are not happy. They are coming to the stadiums to express their feelings and their feelings are not positive.

'They don't come to express their disappointment at the team.

'The whole country is lacking leadership.'