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The Virginian-Pilot(Norfolk, VA.)
By Tales Azzoni
The Associated Press

SAO PAULO -- A Brazilian soccer team was ordered to play its next two home games in an empty stadium after a man was fatally struck on the head by a toilet bowl thrown from the stands during fan violence last weekend.

A sports tribunal also suspended all fan groups of the second-division club Santa Cruz from attending matches anywhere in Brazil until the person who threw the toilet bowl is turned over to authorities. The ruling was made Sunday and the federations were informed Monday.

Police said suspects were detained Monday for questioning but declined to say whether charges would be immediately filed. Brazilian media reported that a 23-year-old man allegedly confessed to throwing one of the toilets. He reportedly said two other fans helped him, but it wasn't clear if they were detained.

Santa Cruz's Arruda Stadium had already been closed by the Brazilian soccer federation Saturday, a day after the 26-year-old fan was killed in the fighting in the World Cup host city of Recife.

The death prompted Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff to call for actions to contain fan violence, including the "urgent" installation of specialized police stations.

"The country that loves football can't be tolerant to violence inside stadiums," she said on Twitter. "Football stadiums are home to joy and passion."

Brazil sports minister Aldo Rebelo told the government's Agencia Brasil news service that the police must find the person responsible.

"To imagine that someone will go to a football stadium and rip a toilet bowl to throw it at someone ... what is this?" he said.

Fan groups have been at the root of violence in Brazil, and Friday's death leaves the country under scrutiny again with the World Cup a few weeks away.

Police said three toilet bowls were ripped out of restrooms and thrown from the top of the stands toward the fighting fans on the corridors below. Paulo Ricardo Gomes da Silva was hit in the head and killed instantly.

The death happened after the Santa Cruz vs. Parana match. Silva was a supporter of Santa Cruz rival Sport and was watching the match with Parana fan groups. The confrontation began as the fans started to head toward the exits after the match.

Local authorities and the Pernambuco state soccer federation are offering about $2,200 to anyone who comes forward with information.

Santa Cruz will have to play in an empty stadium in a Brazilian Cup match Wednesday and in another second-division game Saturday. The club denies any wrongdoing and contends local police were responsible for containing the rival groups Friday.

Also last weekend, authorities detained more than 40 people in Natal because of fan fighting outside the stadium that will host World Cup matches. The match marked the only official test event at the Arena das Dunas.

FIFA and Brazilian authorities have downplayed concerns about violence inside stadiums during the World Cup. They say security will be heightened and such violence happens mostly at club matches.

 
May 6, 2014
 
 
 

 

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