Thursday, 19 July 2007

Armed stewards inside Italian stadia?

Head stewards at Italian football stadiums could be armed next season.

La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Italian authorities are considering the move as part of a revamped security package at games in Italy's top leagues. In February, a police officer was killed during rioting at a Serie A match between Catania and Palermo.

In April, the government decided to adopt the so-called "English model" of placing stewards in charge of security inside stadiums, while leaving police to control fans outside.

Last month the state of emergency imposed on Italian football following the riots was officially over. The interior ministry's Sporting Events Observatory had the power to stop high risk matches from being played at night. Now that power has been handed back to the Italian Football League (Lega Calcio), signalling a return to normality.

From next season, between 150-250 stewards will marshal spectators at matches in stadiums with more than a 7,500-seat capacity, with one head steward for every 20 regular stewards.

However, Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini warned against giving officials guns. "In England, they only have batons. That's enough," Zamparini said. "Firearms are a sign of incivility."

The idea, proposed by the interior ministry, is to be examined by parliament's Constitutional and Cultural Affairs Committee.

The Italian Senate has also passed anti-violence laws, which include tougher penalties for violent supporters and decrees that ban stadiums that do not meet safety requirements.

Source: La Gazzetta dello Sport

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