Police officer dies in Italian soccer riot
Homemade explosive device thrown inside policeman's vehicle
A police officer was killed Friday as fans rioted at an Italian soccer game between Catania and Palermo, leading to the cancellation of all soccer matches in Italy's top two divisions on the weekend.
The trouble started in the 58th minute of the game between the Sicilian rivals when the contest was temporarily suspended after tear gas, used by police to halt rioting outside Catania's Angelo Massimino stadium, drifted inside and filled the stadium.
The 38-year-old officer died after a homemade explosive device was thrown inside his vehicle, police said.
Another policeman was in critical condition, and police said dozens of people with lesser injuries were taken to local hospitals.
The game resumed after a lengthy delay and Palermo went on to win 2-1.
Hundreds trapped inside stadium
The violence continued after the game. Hundreds of fans were trapped inside the stadium while the authorities sought to avoid further violence and stop people from leaving.
The death of the police officer and the rioting prompted Italian Soccer Federation commissioner Luca Pancalli to cancel all games in Serie A and B on the weekend. The Italian national team's exhibition game against Romania on Wednesday was also called off.
"The decision to block the championships was immediate," Pancalli told a news conference.
"We cannot continue like this. What we're witnessing has nothing to do with soccer, therefore Italian soccer is stopping."
Pancalli added that the Italian Soccer Federation would meet on Monday in order "to identify those drastic measures that will allow us to restart. Otherwise, we're not restarting the games."
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi condemned the violence.
"I feel it is my duty to say that we unfortunately need a loud and clear signal to avoid the degeneration of the sport that we, unfortunately and dramatically, are witnessing," Prodi was quoted as saying by Italian news agencies.
Friday's incident was the latest to besmirch Italian soccer this season.
Last week, Ermanno Licursi, director of amateur team Sanmartinese, was killed in a fight with opposition players after the final whistle of a game against Cancellese.