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Spanish clubs considering partial stadium closures to tackle ultras after death of fan

The 43-year-old father of one passed away having had a heart attack after a clash between supporters on Sunday.

Atletico Madrid's Vicente Calderon.
Atletico Madrid's Vicente Calderon.
Image: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

PARTIAL STADIUM CLOSURES could be employed to keep ‘ultras’ away from Spanish football matches, it was announced on Monday.

A Deportivo La Coruna fan died on Sunday following clashes between supporters ahead of their 2-0 Liga defeat at Atletico Madrid.

Radical fans on the fringes of four Spanish clubs apparently planned Sunday’s brawl using a mobile phone group messaging service, escaping police detection, officials said.

The clash drew 200 members of hardline groups linked to the two sides plus two other Madrid clubs, Rayo Vallecano and Alcorcon.

When it was over, 43-year-old father of one Francisco “Jimmy” Romero was pulled out of the Manzanares river having had a heart attack while he also was suffering from hypothermia and head injuries and died soon afterwards.

On Monday, 21 people were still in police detention.

“There were no indications that could have allowed us to foresee such incidents,” said Spain’s junior security minister Francisco Martinez after a meeting on Monday of the country’s Antiviolence Commission.

“They did what was necessary to deliberately escape the control of the police.”

A video camera captured the moment when a man identified by Spanish media as Romero — a member of the Deportivo hardcore fan group Riazor Blues — was heaved over the embankment into the river by his adversaries near Atletico Madrid’s Vicente Calderon stadium.

The match went ahead despite the best efforts of the LFP (National Professional Football League), which confirmed that it tried to have the game postponed following the trouble outside the stadium.

Both teams and the RFEF (Spanish Football Federation) have since condemned the violence that preceded the match, and the country’s politicians are urgently exploring measures to eliminate violence at matches.

“We will try different proposals to get what we are aiming for,” said National Sports Council president Miguel Cardenal after a meeting of the Anti-Violence Commission.

We want to fully prevent violent and radical people getting into football stadiums or anywhere related with the sport.

“There’s no place for them inside or outside stadia pretending they are football fans.

“We have thought about the possibility of a partial closure of stadia as other football federations are already doing. This is the advice coming from UEFA.

“We also want to address the verbal violence going on in our football as our levels in this regard are unacceptable, so we will try to stop this too.”

It was also announced that representatives from the RFEF would meet with Liga officials on Thursday to discuss the issue.

Additional reporting by - © AFP 2014

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