ROME - Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi has promised drastic measures to confront soccer violence after clashes by rampaging fans at a top level match left a policeman dead and as many as 150 people injured.
Prodi was forced to intervene as Italy's soccer stadiums fell silent yesterday, with all play in the country's leagues suspended indefinitely after the nation's second soccer-related death in a week.
"We cannot continuously put the lives of police officers at risk and need a remedy that makes soccer clubs feel responsible (for fans' actions) and radically changes the situation," Prodi told reporters in Bologna.
He and top Italian sports officials convened a series of high-level meetings to hammer out emergency measures to curb future hooliganism.
But a quick resumption of matches appeared unlikely, with Interior Minister Giuliano Amato saying he would no longer send his police force to matches under existing conditions.
"Enough is enough," he told Italian television. "Violence is everywhere, but violence in the stadiums connected to a game - I find that truly unacceptable."
Trouble at Friday's match between Palermo and Catania began with smoke - partly from tear gas outside the stadium - suspending play for half an hour.
Violent clashes between rioters and the police lasted for hours after the game, during which a large firecracker exploded in 38-year-old police officer Filippo Raciti's face. He died as he arrived at hospital.
The death came just six days after a club official died in a fight after an amateur match in the southern town of Luzzi.
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has indefinitely suspended all games, and Italy's international friendly against Romania in Siena on Wednesday has been called off.
The Italian Olympic Committee, one of Italian sport's governing bodies, will hold an extraordinary meeting today to discuss the situation. Prodi will meet top ministers tomorrow, while Amato is expected to address Parliament on Tuesday.
The president of the Italian Footballers' Association, Sergio Campana, called for the leagues to be halted for at least a year.
His suggestion - though unlikely to be followed - would at least give Italian clubs the chance to modernize their old-fashioned stadiums to bring them into line with those in other top European leagues.
Raciti was the 13th person to be killed in or around Italy's soccer stadiums since 1962. The last fatality at a Serie A match happened in 1995, when a Genoa fan was stabbed to death before a game against AC Milan.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now