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Italy Pushes for More Security at Stadiums


Italy's government vowed on Tuesday to push ahead with tough security measures including closed-door matches for all stadiums deemed unsafe, but clubs said they hoped for a compromise. The interior minister told parliament he would resist pressure to resume matches until he is certain safety standards are met. For VOA, Sabina Castelfranco reports from Rome.

New tough measures to deal with stadium violence have been announced in Italy following the cancellation of weekend football after a police officer was killed during clashes between fans last Friday.

Among the proposals under discussion, and due to be approved in a cabinet meeting Wednesday, are that clubs will no longer be able to sell blocks of tickets to visiting fans, in order to control who enters the stadiums.

Plans also include a strengthening of stadium bans for those found guilty of violence and the possibility for police to arrest fans without a warrant for up to 48 hours.

The commissioner of the Italian football federation Luca Pancalli has said games could resume Sunday. But addressing parliament on Tuesday, Italy's Interior Minister Giuliano Amato said he would resist pressure from the football world for play to resume until the needed safety standards are in place.

"There is no doubt, Amato said there will be pressure because the show must go on," he said. "But we have a duty towards the security forces and towards our citizens to resist these pressures.

Amato added that human life and the right to public safety are worth much more than economic interests. He said that 34 people were arrested following the rioting at the all-Sicilian match between Catania and Palermo, including 11 minors.

The Italian football league has agreed that clubs should take on more responsibility in ensuring stadiums conform to safety rules. Discussions are under way to try to avoid playing without an audience. Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini said " It is not possible to play matches without spectators."

"We will guarantee security inside the stadiums but we cannot play football behind closed doors," he said. "We will ask the prefects to tell us which are the stadiums which cannot be used."

If play does resume this weekend, it is unclear how many stadiums will be open to the public as they will have to meet the required safety regulations.

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