Italian stadiums face 'closed doors' threat

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The Independent Football

Antonio Matarrese, the president of the Italian Football League, has urged the government to consider the financial repercussions of halting football for another week.

But his call came as the Italian Interior Minister, Giuliano Amato, said that stadiums which did not meet safety regulations would have to hold matches behind closed doors without spectators. Only four stadiums in Serie A - Rome's Olympic Stadium, Palermo's Barbera Stadium, Turin's Olympic Stadium and Siena's Artemio Franchi stadium - properly fulfil safety criteria for national and international matches.

All football games have been postponed in Italy and no announcement on a resumption will be made until after today's funeral for the policeman Filippo Raciti, who was killed while on duty at the Sicily derby between Catania and Palermo on Friday. However, Matarrese believes that a further postponement could have serious implications.

"It was necessary to stop," Matarrese said. "This is one of the most important businesses in Italy and it has to continue to work. If someone simply wants to make a point, we may risk breaking the game. We are in pain but the show must go on."

Sampdoria's general administrator, Beppe Marotta, also said that football must restart as soon as possible. "By halting a day's games you lose €6.3m [£4.2m] from box-office revenue plus the TV sporting rights," he said. "We are aware that the football situation in our country is deteriorating but we have no means to combat this violence."

That admission will not help Italy's bid to host the 2012 European football championship which risks being derailed after the death of Raciti.

Italy's bid is one of three for the competition, along with joint bids by Poland and Ukraine, and Croatia and Hungary. The winner will be announced after a vote by Uefa's 15-man executive committee on 18 April in Cardiff.

Italy had been considered favourites to host their first major football competition since the World Cup in 1990, but the death of Raciti dealt another blow to a nation still smarting from last year's match-fixing scandal.

Uefa's newly elected president, Michel Platini, who played for Juventus between 1982 and 1987, has refused to comment on how Raciti's death might affect Italy's bid, saying simply that he supported the decision by the Italian Football Federation commissioner, Luca Pancalli, to suspend all national and international matches.

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