Death sparks fears of more fan violence in Brazil

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Fan groups from the top Sao Paulo state clubs _ Palmeiras, Corinthians, Sao Paulo and Santos _ have been involved in several incidents before matches this year, but there have been problems in other parts of the country too.

Four Goias fans were wounded by gunshots in Goiania in January, and another four were shot after a fight that left 80 people detained in Rio de Janeiro late last year.

In November 2010, a 19-year-old Cruzeiro fan was killed after being repeatedly beaten with iron bars during a brawl between dozens of rival fans in Belo Horizonte in southeastern Brazil.

Oliveira said several actions were in place in Sao Paulo to help combat fan violence in the last few years, including a close relationship with the fan groups, the prohibition of alcoholic beverages inside the stadiums and the decrease in the number of fans at away matches. Banning fan groups from stadiums may be an option now, although similar measures in the past did not prompt satisfactory result.

Experts said Monday that the lack of severe punishment and proper police training are some of the reasons for the continued violence. They say authorities need to take a more active role.

“They are being too passive in relation to this problem and this is what ends up happening,” said Mauricio Murad, a sports sociologist with the UNIVERSO university in Rio de Janeiro. “We need better trained police and proper punishment to try to contain this problem.”

Murad conducted a study a few years ago that showed that more than 40 people were killed in connection with Brazilian soccer matches between 1999 and 2009.

He said the problem is mostly isolated to fan groups and this kind of fan violence should not cause concerns for events such as next year’s Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup.

“It’s a different issue,” he said.

Other South American nations have had to deal with fan violence recently. One man was killed and dozens were injured in two separate instances in Colombia this month.

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