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Italians Mourn Policeman Killed at Soccer Game


A funeral for a policemen killed in clashes following a soccer game in Sicily drew thousands of people. Soccer crazy Italy has been shocked by the violence that followed a top league game. Sabina Castelfranco reports from Rome

Thousands of mourners packed Catania Cathedral in Sicily for the funeral of 38-year-old policeman, Filippo Raciti, who was killed in soccer violence last Friday. Tears streaked down the faces of many of those attending the service. A large crowd also gathered outside in the square in front of the church.

A huge applause broke out when the coffin of the policeman, draped in the Italian flag, was brought into the church. During the service, a telegram by the pope was read in which Benedict expressed firm condemnation for violent acts that stain the game of soccer.

In his homily, Monsignor Paolo Romeo said, we are gathered here together to give our dutiful farewell to a brother in faith and loyal and proud servant of the state.

The policeman was killed during clashes with hooligans following a top league match between Palermo and Catania. More than 100 people were injured in the violence.

Soccer-crazy Italians, who last summer celebrated a World Cup victory, were shocked by the riots. All soccer matches in the country were banned indefinitely and authorities and soccer federation officials have pledged to establish emergency measures before the ban is lifted.

Measures that are being considered include barring organized groups of fans from following their teams at away games, stiffening penalties and limiting the number of fans allowed in stadiums considered unsafe.

Italy's interior minister, Giuliano Amato, is set to report to the lower house on soccer violence on Tuesday. He has said that the violence must stop, or the games will. But the economic impact of not allowing a quick return to play could be huge. The soccer industry in Italy is worth an estimated $7 billion a year.

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