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Football | Italy

Genoa fans © Reuters Images

Genoa could face harsh punishment



Genoa risks a multi-match home stadium ban but football authorities are calling for even harsher measures in the wake of a protest-filled 4-1 loss to Siena.

It's the latest in a long list of crowd trouble at Serie A matches, and Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Petrucci declared Monday that the situation is "beyond the point of no return."

Sunday's match with Siena was suspended for about 45 minutes early in the second half, when Genoa fans threw flares onto the pitch and climbed atop barriers as they were faced by stewards in riot gear.

With their side trailing 4-0, players tried to appease the hard-core "ultra" fans by removing their shirts to acknowledge they weren't worthy of wearing them.

"It's not enough to ban the stadium, we need to stop these delinquents that are damaging football and Genoa," Serie A president Maurizio Beretta said.

Italian football federation president Giancarlo Abete said the players shouldn't have given in to the fans' demands, but Genoa president Enrico Preziosi said the shirt removals "made good sense, to prevent something worse from happening.

"They were throwing fireworks and small bombs onto the pitch," Preziosi added. "These 60-70 people are not fans, they're just organised delinquents."

Speculation over the home stadium ban that Genoa will likely receive ranged from two to three matches.

Genoa only has two home games remaining this season - v Cagliari on May 2 and v Palermo on May 13.

There will also likely be an inquiry into why players removed their shirts.

And police have already begun an investigation to identify the fans involved, with possible charges including damage to public property, throwing dangerous objects, violence and interruption of a sports event.

The loss left Genoa one point above the relegation zone, and resulted in coach Alberto Malesani being fired for the second time this season.

An Italy-Serbia match in the same stadium last season was stopped in similar circumstances - albeit with Serbian fans causing the violence. There were also massive clashes following the shooting of a Lazio fan by a police officer at a highway rest stop in 2007. And the hard-core "ultra" fans forced the 2004 Rome derby to be suspended after a false rumor spread that a boy had been shot by police outside the stadium.

The latest protests came just a week after all Italian matches were canceled following the death of Piermario Morosini in a Serie B game due to cardiac arrest.

"I'm not sure people realise what is happening to part of the football world," Petrucci said. "A week ago we had a drama and there was dedication to (improve), but yesterday it seemed like nothing had happened at all. We showed how you can ruin the best show in the world.

"Whoever can intervene needs to, and CONI is leading the list," Petrucci added. "I just hope that starting tomorrow we don't go back to just talking about matches with nobody admitting that we should be ashamed of ourselves."

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