- Associated Press - Monday, May 5, 2014

SAO PAULO (AP) - Brazil’s sports tribunal has ordered a second-division team to play its next two home matches in an empty stadium because of the death of a man struck in the head by a toilet bowl thrown from the stands during fan violence last weekend.

The tribunal has also suspended all of Santa Cruz’s fan groups from attending matches anywhere in Brazil until the person who threw the toilet bowl was turned over to authorities. Police said suspects were detained on Monday for interrogation but declined to say whether charges would be immediately filed.

Police would not provide any further details on Monday’s arrests, but Brazilian media reported that a 23-year-old man allegedly confessed he threw one of the toilets. According to the reports, he said two other fans helped him, but it wasn’t clear if they were also detained.

Santa Cruz’s Arruda Stadium was closed by the Brazilian football federation on Saturday, a day after the 26-year-old fan was killed in the fighting in the northeastern World Cup host city of Recife.

The death prompted Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to call for actions to contain fan violence in Brazil’s stadiums, including the “urgent” installation of specialized police stations inside stadiums.

“The country that loves football can’t be tolerant to violence inside stadiums,” she said on Twitter after the death. “Violence inside stadiums must be rigorously reprimanded by local police, and criminals must be taken to courts. Football stadiums are home to joy and passion. We should all unite for #PeaceAtStadiums.”

Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said impunity was what keeps fueling fan violence in the country.

“Police has to find the responsible person for this and make an arrest,” Rebelo told the government’s official Agencia Brasil news service on Monday. “To imagine that someone will go to a football stadium and rip a toilet bowl to throw it at someone … what is this?”

Fan groups have been at the root of violence in Brazil. Last year there was an increase in the number of incidents and Friday’s death came less than six weeks before the World Cup.

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.

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

Also last weekend in the northeastern city of Natal, authorities detained more than 40 people 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, saying security will be heightened and such incidents are related mostly to club matches.


Tales Azzoni on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tazzoni

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