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Berlusconi threatens crackdown on violent fans

Posted: Thursday, April 14, 2005

ROME — Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Wednesday that ''drastic measures'' may be needed to stem the rise of violence at Italian soccer stadiums, a day after a fan hit a goalkeeper with a flare in a European Champions League quarterfinal.

Soccer's European governing body said it will decide Friday on what punishment to impose on Internazionale of Milan. AC Milan goalkeeper Dida was hit on a shoulder Tuesday night, and the referee abandoned the game after Inter fans threw more flares onto the field at San Siro stadium.

Milan police chief Paolo Scarpis said four Inter fans were arrested in relation to Tuesday night's trouble. He said others were being identified and more arrests were likely.

Last weekend, scores of fans were arrested and 89 police officers injured in fighting at stadiums across the country.

Berlusconi, the owner of AC Milan, discussed the situation Wednesday with Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu.

''It is clear there is a risk of even more serious events, a risk that must be avoided through every means possible,'' Berlusconi's office said in a statement.

AC Milan was leading 1-0 in the game and 3-0 in the home-and-home, total goals series. Inter was the home team in Tuesday's second leg.

UEFA's disciplinary committee could order Inter to play one or more of its next European home games in an empty stadium and the team also could be banned from next season's European competitions. Earlier this season in the Champions League, AS Roma was made to play two Champions League games in an empty Olympic Stadium after referee Anders Frisk was hit in the head by an object thrown from the stands during a game against Dynamo Kiev.

Dida was hit on the right shoulder by a flare in the 73rd minute and treated at midfield, just two minutes after an apparent goal by Esteban Cambiasso was disallowed for a foul.

Play was stopped after Dida collapsed, and the teams soon left the field. They returned 10 minutes later and the match resumed. But fans started throwing flares again and referee Markus Merk stopped the match for good less than a minute later.

Liverpool and Juventus played to a 0-0 tie in Turin on Wednesday in another Champions League quarterfinal. The English team advanced to the semifinals with a 2-1 total-goals victory in the home-and-home series.

Last week's first leg in England was the first meeting between the teams since the 1985 Champions Cup final in Brussels, Belgium, where 39 fans were crushed to death in a riot started by Liverpool supporters.

On Wednesday, several firecrackers were thrown into the Liverpool section after the game, and the English fans were kept in the stadium until the Juventus supporters were cleared out.

The Liverpool fans finally left the stadium shortly before midnight and were escorted by police to Turin's Caselle airport for an immediate return home.

A Liverpool fan was attacked Tuesday night by bat-wielding Juventus fans in a Turin bar. Six Italian men were arrested Wednesday in the attack.

More than 1,000 police officers were deployed for Wednesday's match.



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