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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
Read
By ESPN Staff

Violence will drive away star names - Kaka

AC Milan midfielder Kaka believes Italian football is 'losing credibility' and has warned of the long-term implications of further football-related violence.

Lazio fan Gabriele Sandri was accidentally shot by a policeman at a motorway service station near Arezzo on Sunday which prompted violence on the terraces at the game between Atalanta and AC Milan.

An angry mob of fans also stormed the CONI (Italian Olympic Committee) headquarters in Rome later that evening.

The incidents follows a recent chequered history for football in the country which was rocked by the death of policeman Filippo Raciti during rioting nine months ago as well as a match-fixing scandal, and Kaka said it may put the top players off moving to Serie A.

'First there was Calciopoli (the match-fixing scandal), then the police officer who was killed and now another tragedy,' Kaka said. 'A fan who was killed while he was on his way to see a match and these are all blows that hurt the football world.

'The stars all want to play in top teams and in Italy you have some of the most prestigious clubs in the world. In a couple of hours' time when I join the national team, my colleagues will ask me, `what happened in Italy?'

'These acts of violence risk keeping the star players and champions away from playing in Serie A. Italy is losing credibility.'

The 25-year-old Brazil international also said the Italian government needs to start taking responsibility for the wider ills which have blighted the game.

'What blame can you give football if a motorway service area becomes the scene of guerrilla warfare?' Kaka said. 'It's not the fault of football - this is a problem of the state.'

The FIGC has postponed all Serie B and Serie C games this weekend while the following weekend's Serie A action remains in doubt.

There are no top-flight matches this weekend due to the international break.

In a bid to combat hooliganism, Atalanta president Ivan Ruggeri is planning to shut down `la curva'.

La curva is the section where the Atalanta ultras - extreme fans - watch games and it is there where the violence flared at the weekend, forcing the match to be abandoned after just seven minutes.

'The scenes we saw in Bergamo should never be seen in the football world,' said Ruggeri.

'I want to state that on Sunday, there were 24,000 people at the stadium in Bergamo and 20,000 have turned against the curva and this is an important sign.

'Bergamo cannot tolerate this, Bergamo is one of the most industrial cities in Italy and cannot tolerate 200 or 300 vandals who cause havoc at a football game.

'My dream is to close la curva and have families and kids instead.

'But in order to achieve that dream, I need the police to help me because alone I cannot achieve it.'