Italian football may make return

Italian football may make return
Palermo players try to get away from the tear gas during their game with Catania
Palermo's players try to get away from the tear gas
Italian football could restart on Sunday, according to Luca Pancalli, commissioner of the Italian Federation.

Serie A and B clubs meet on Tuesday to discuss a government proposal to close stadiums deemed unsafe for fans.

But Italian Interior Minister Giuliano Amato has told parliament he will resist pressure to resume matches until he is sure safety standards are met.

The move follows the cancellation of weekend football after a policemen was killed during clashes between fans.

Deadly violence at an Italian football match

Luca Pancalli said: "There are the means to return to play on Sunday but we must wait for Wednesday's government meeting before making a final decision."

Outrage over death

Policeman Filippo Raciti died after a bomb was thrown into his car during rioting at a Serie A derby in Sicily between Catania and Palermo on Friday.

His death prompted outrage from Italian politicians and the suspension of all amateur and professional games - including Wednesday's international friendly against Romania.

The head of the Italian Footballers' Association, Sergio Campana, called for the leagues to be halted for at least a year.

On Monday, the interior minister said stadiums that do not meet security standards will not be allowed to admit fans.

"We will not allow fans to go into a stadium that does not respect the current safety norms," he said.

"In stadiums like that of Catania I will not admit anyone, I am firm on this. That game shouldn't have been played.

"Hence, only those stadiums that meet the security norms will re-open to the fans, the other stadiums will be used to play in but without fans until they meet guidelines.

I believe this decision is excessive. It would mean that 95% of the games will be staged without fans

Atalanta president Ivan Ruggeri
"Our current norms are efficient if followed."

Pancalli attended the meeting on Monday with government officials, regarding the anti-violence regulations to adopt.

Enrico Letta, under-secretary to Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, said: "We will take urgent measures.

"Some of them will be reinforced and others will be innovations. The government will propose a law to parliament regarding the relationship between clubs, stadiums and the relationship of fans.

"The first regulations will be done immediately with an urgent decree and will be linked to the need of guaranteeing public order, which is the absolute priority."

Atalanta president Ivan Ruggeri has already voiced his concern over the possibility that most clubs could be playing behind closed doors.

Work at the Granillo stadium has almost been finished
Reggina president Pasquale Foti

His club's Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia would be among those grounds that would be forced to play without fans as it fails to meet the current safety standards.

"If this is confirmed I will propose to the League not to play," said Ruggeri.

"I don't think it's fair for us to be hindered like this. I understand that it is a serious problem and we are all very hurt by what has happened.

"But frankly, I believe this decision is excessive. It would mean that 95% of the games will be staged without fans."

It is understood that only five stadiums in Italy are currently acceptable in both Serie A and Serie B - the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, the Artemio Franchi in Siena, the Stadio Olimpico in Turin, Renzo Barbera in Palermo and Bologna's Renato Dall'Ara.

Other grounds, such as the San Siro in Milan, do not fall far short of the guidelines which would allow fans to enter the stadium.

Serie A clubs like Cagliari and Reggina have already made arrangements for their stadiums to meet those safety requirements.

"Work at the Granillo stadium has almost been finished," said Reggina president Pasquale Foti.

"We are just missing certain details but by the time football restarts we should have everything in order."

'Robust' measures

An estimated £9.9m (15m euros) is lost by halting a day's games in Italian football.

Other proposals included forcing clubs to adopt stricter anti-hooligan measures by the start of next season.

The president of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) Gianni Petrucci said if clubs did not agree to the new guidelines - which would see more controls imposed on tickets and an increase in use of closed circuit cameras - they would not be able to host games.

Prime Minister Prodi has already promised "robust" measures to curb the violence.

He called for "a remedy that makes clubs feel responsible (for fans) and radically changes the situation".

He said the violence had deepened concern about hooliganism in football.