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By ESPN Staff

Prison for three Espanyol fans after violence

MADRID, April 9 (Reuters) - Three Espanyol fans have been given three-year prison sentences by a court in Barcelona for serious public disorder offences at the Primera Liga club's Montjuic stadium nearly four years ago.

It is one of the toughest punishments handed out in Spain for violence at a soccer match.

The three were part of a group of fans responsible for crowd surges, confrontations with the police, throwing objects on to the pitch and causing damage to the stadium fittings during the city derby against Barcelona on Oct. 16, 2004.

After the game, they were involved in further violent incidents outside the stadium, where they were detained by the police.

They were ordered to compensate Espanyol with 10,782 euros for the damage caused to their property and were barred from entering any soccer stadium for five years.

There have been a number of violent incidents at Spanish matches in recent years with players, fans, coaches and match officials injured inside and outside stadiums.

Last month, Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Armando had to have six stitches for a cut on his face after being hit by a bottle thrown from the stands by a Real Betis fan.

A couple of weeks later, mobile-phone images of an Atletico Madrid fan being kicked and beaten with a stick by Sevilla supporters outside the Sanchez Pizjuan stadium, were aired on television.