Italy bans fans after crowd trouble

Italy have indefinitely banned their own supporters from away games after trouble flared during the Azzurri’s goalless draw in Bulgaria on Saturday.

The Italian Football Federation have announced they will not take up their allocation of tickets for away fixtures following events in Sofia.

A section of the travelling support threw bottles at the Bulgarian fans and made fascist salutes and chanted fascist slogans.

Three Italian fans were also detained by police after burning a Bulgarian flag.

Federation president Giancarlo Abete has condemned those involved and, although authorities cannot prevent fans from travelling to away fixtures, they can stop them from gaining entry to the stadium.

“Until we have certainties and we are able to verify certain things, we will not ask for any tickets for Italy’s away games,” said Abete.

“I feel great bitterness and pain for what has happened.

“Everyone knows the process to isolate these individuals is long but this is a dark episode.

“I believe with all the technological means available we can now identify those individuals.

“I don’t believe they are fans but individuals who are prone to delinquent behaviour with the intention of damaging the image of our nation.

“But we have all of their names and we will punish them.”

The incidents come just a month after the Italian government announced measures to stamp out hooliganism.

The game in Italy has been plagued by the problem in recent seasons with the start of this year’s Serie A campaign marred by unruly behaviour.

Italy’s interior minister, Roberto Maroni, recently launched an advertising campaign against violence in football.

The world champions host Montenegro in Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier in Lecce.

Their next away game is in Montenegro on March 23, 2009 and they will visit Dublin for a game against the Republic of Ireland in October next year.

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