Italy passes plans to keep fans out of stadiums

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The Italian Cabinet last night approved measures that will keep fans out of football stadiums until security precautions are met. The decree includes "the explicit indication that in stadiums that are not up to code, they will play behind closed doors", the Interior Ministry undersecretary, Marco Minniti, said.

"The measures are severe and without precedent," Minniti added. "Our objective isn't to play the games behind closed doors. Our objective is to play the games in safe stadiums with open doors."

The Prime Minster Romano Prodi's Cabinet was reacting to the fatal attack on a policeman during rioting last week during and after a Serie A match in Sicily. The decree also bans clubs from selling blocks of tickets to visiting fans and allows authorities to bar suspected hooligans from entering stadiums.

The Italian football league said that its officials would meet today with the presidents of all 42 Serie A and Serie B clubs when the names of those stadiums subject to closure to the fans will be announced.

Only six football stadiums in Italy meet the required security standards, including Rome's Stadio Olimpico. The San Siro stadium ­ home to Milan and Internazionale ­ is among the stadiums completing work to meet the requirements.

At least 38 people have been arrested, including 15 minors, and two more taken in for questioning over the violence at Catania's stadium last Friday. No one has been charged with the officer's death.

Investigators in Catania were examining a film of the fatal attack in an attempt to identify suspects, police said. Italian news reports said that the film showed the fighting outside that began after the Catania-Palermo match had started on Friday night, including youths with partially covered faces approaching the 38-year-old Filippo Raciti and one of them hitting him in the abdomen. The film reportedly also showed Raciti being hit with a sink.

Raciti continued to work, but about 45 minutes later he climbed out of his car when someone tossed a fire cracker inside, and collapsed as a small, crude bomb went off next to him. Police initially believed Raciti was killed by the bomb, but officials said later that he died from severe injuries to his liver, probably after being hit by a blunt object.