Social soccer unrest shocks Italy

Nov. 13, 2007 at 11:18 AM
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ROME, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- The killing of a soccer fan caused thousands of hooligans to clash with police in Italy on Sunday.

"It was a tragic mistake," Vincenzo Giacobbe, the police chief of Arezzo, told the Italian sports daily Gazetto dello Sport. The mistake Giacobbe referred to was the fatal shooting of a soccer fan at a highway stop, where police tried to break up a brawl between fans of two rival teams. Gabriele Sandri, a 26-year-old soccer fan sitting in his car, was shot in the neck and died.

The news of the man's death spread all over the country, and nothing less than civil riots ensued.

Sunday night in Rome, some 400 hooligans attacked two police stations and the bureau of the Italian Olympic Committee. Others torched cars and blocked a bridge over the Tiber with metal gates and garbage bins.

Several soccer matches all over the country were canceled before they began or shortly afterward because hooligans and police clashed in nasty brawls. At least 10 police officers were injured, Spiegel Online said.

Politicians from all parties have said they are shocked and worried about the escalation of violence. Italy's Interior Ministry announced authorities would react even harsher to contain the hooligan violence.

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