Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Violence 'will not distract Italy'

Italian football chief Giancarlo Abete believes the national team can overcome the turmoil in the domestic game to concentrate on beating Scotland.

Italy play Scotland in a crucial Euro 2008 qualifier on Saturday just days after a policeman shot dead a Lazio fan which resulted in violent clashes.

Abete said: "This is an important week for Italian football. But the national team has the support of the nation.

"Saturday's encounter is a difficult game but the team is preparing well."

Italy lifted the World Cup last year, despite the fallout from the Calciopoli scandal.

And Abete hopes the Azzurri can again achieve on the pitch, as much of Italy is still trying to come to terms with events off it.

The death of 26-year-old supporter Gabriele Sandri, killed accidentally by a policeman at a motorway service station near the Tuscan city of Arezzo on Sunday, led to violence between fans and police across the country.

And nine months ago police officer Filippo Raciti died during rioting at a Serie A match between Catania and Palermo.

The latest tragedy has led to this weekend's domestic fixtures in Serie B and C being postponed.

The Italy team have taken refuge at the Coverciano training centre in Florence - their base during the scandal ahead of last year's World Cup.

And captain Fabio Cannavaro believes it will hold the players in good stead. He said: "We have faced situations like this before here at Coverciano and come through."

Italy has suffered a series of unsavoury events in recent history and AC Milan's Brazilian star Kaka believes it may put the top players off moving to Serie A.

He said: "First there was Calciopoli, then the police officer who was killed and now another tragedy.

"A fan who was killed while he was on his way to see a match and these are all blows that hurt the football world.

"The stars all want to play in top teams and in Italy you have some of the most prestigious clubs in the world.

"These acts of violence risk keeping the star players and champions away from playing in Serie A.

"Italy is losing credibility."

Source: C4 Football Italia / BBC

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