Brazilian team punished after fan killed by toilet bowl thrown from stands
MAY 05, 2014 11:49a ET
SAO PAULO (AP) A Brazilian soccer team has been 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 of the fan groups of the second-division club 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.
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 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.''
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 on the person who threw the toilet.
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 that 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.