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UEFA: Game not to blame for unrest
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13:37, November 15, 2007

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UEFA president Michel Platini believes Italy's government must do more to tackle soccer-related violence in the wake of two fatal shootings in the country in the last year, his special advisor said.

"Michel Platini believes the Italian government and the judiciary is not doing its job properly," William Gaillard told Reuters on Tuesday.

"His (Platini's) view is that soccer is not to blame, nor the majority of real Italian soccer fans, but it is a minority of extremists who take over fans clubs and are not interested in football who are to blame.

"The Italian authorities need to clean up these supporters clubs, otherwise the small minority is going to continue to ruin the game for the majority of Italian supporters who are terrific fans of the game," Gaillard added.

Italian soccer is in turmoil following widespread violence on Sunday after the shooting death of a Lazio fan by a police officer. It mirrored the death of a policeman during rioting outside a match in Sicily last February.

Police said Sunday's fatal shooting of Gabriele Sandri at a service station where police were dealing with clashes between Lazio and Juventus supporters was accidental. The unnamed officer is under investigation for manslaughter.

"This was a terrible tragedy, but soccer is not totally to blame, this could have happened in any circumstance," Gaillard said.

"We (soccer's authorities) are powerless to act in these situations. What goes on outside our stadiums is not our responsibility, but the responsibility of the authorities."

UEFA would like to see tougher laws introduced by Italy's judiciary, Gaillard said.

"Italy needs tougher judicial bans like in England. At the moment you cannot ban a fan for life in Italy, this has to happen," he said. "The complicated system whereby the municipal authorities are in charge of the stadiums has to change and be given over to a central and higher authority."

"We also need to pull the high-level of police from inside the stadium and put in properly trained and specialist stewarding, again like in England," Gaillard added.

The issue of soccer-related violence is due to be discussed at a high-level summit of European Union ministers, the European Commission, EU police chiefs, supporters groups and senior soccer officials at the end of the month.

A proposal to ban sports fans who misbehave from stadiums and major events across the whole of the 27-member bloc is expected to be top of the agenda at the meeting on November 28 along with stadium security, policing and stricter punishments.

"The violence in Italy shows that this meeting is more important than ever," Gaillard said. "We need a more coherent strategy at EU level. We will also be asking the EU to put more pressure on countries such as Italy to act swiftly and more effectively."

Source: China Daily/Agencies

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