The NewsFuror

Monday, November 12, 2007

Emirates orders 81 Airbus planes

Airbus A380
The latest Emirates deal is worth more than $20bn for Airbus
Emirates has ordered 81 Airbus jets, in a deal worth more than $20bn (£9.6bn) for the European plane-maker.

The Dubai-based airline is buying 70 of Airbus' mid-sized A350 model, and 11 Airbus A380 twin-deck super jumbos.

Announced at the start of the Dubai air show, Emirates said the new planes would play "an important role" in the growth of both the airline and Dubai.

Emirates added that it also had the option to purchase a further 50 A350 aircraft at a future date.

Rolls-Royce deal

If this additional order goes ahead, the final deal will be worth about $32bn for Airbus.

Emirates airlines is placing great faith in our A350 XWB and A380 programmes as well as our company and we are rightfully proud
Airbus boss Tom Enders

The latest contract win for Airbus was also good news for British engine-maker Rolls-Royce, as Emirates has chosen its units to power the new planes.

It will be worth up to $8.4bn for Rolls-Royce if Emirates does go on to buy the additional 50 A350 planes.

"Emirates airlines is placing great faith in our A350 XWB and A380 programmes as well as our company and we are rightfully proud," said Airbus president and chief executive Tom Enders.

The order is welcome good news for Airbus parent group EADS.

Last week EADS warned it may have to deepen planned restructuring and job cuts after its losses for the July to September period worsened to 775m euros ($1.14bn; £541m), compared with 189m euros last year.

It already plans to cut 10,000 jobs at Airbus over the next four years.

Airbus designs and makes its wings in the UK.

HSBC 'to reveal more US bad debt'

HSBC has already announced job cuts in the US
UK banking giant HSBC has declined to comment on speculation its US unit will this week reveal a further $1bn (£478m) exposure to bad American housing debt.

HSBC Finance will show the losses when it releases results on Wednesday for the three months to the end of September, said the Sunday Telegraph.

The unit has already cut 750 jobs at a cost of $945m (£452m) due to the crisis in the US sub-prime mortgage sector.

The job losses came as it shut down one of its sub-prime mortgage subsidiaries.

That announcement was made back in September.

Barclays denial

Sub-prime mortgages are higher risk home loans to people with poor credit histories, or those on low incomes.

The sector has experienced record loan defaults against a backdrop of higher US mortgage rates over the past year.

The knock-on effect has been large losses for many of America's biggest banks, who found themselves heavily exposed to the industry.

Two of the largest - Citigroup and Merrill Lynch - have both seen their former bosses resign as a result.

HSBC's fellow UK bank Barclays denied on Friday that it was about to reveal a $10bn exposure to US mortgage bad debt.

Malaysia firm's 'Muslim car' plan

File pic: unveiling of the Proton Persona sedan near Kuala Lumpur in August 2007
Proton believes it may have found a huge gap in the market
The Malaysian carmaker Proton has announced plans to develop an "Islamic car", designed for Muslim motorists.

Proton is planning on teaming up with manufacturers in Iran and Turkey to create the unique vehicle.

The car could boast special features like a compass pointing to Mecca and a dedicated space to keep a copy of the Koran and a headscarf.

The idea came during a visit to the Middle East by a delegation of Malaysian politicians and businessmen.

Malaysian press reports say officials in Iran originally suggested the idea.

Safety features or fuel economy is one way of selling a car, but Proton thinks vehicles designed specifically for Muslims across the world represent a huge gap in the market.

Proton is the most dominant car on the streets here but the company has suffered recently after the government allowed more foreign cars to be imported.

The firm has been in talks recently with VW about a takeover by the German car giant.

China halts 'toxic' toy exports

Aqua Dots, a Chinese-made toy
The toy has proved extremely popular in both the US and Australia
The Chinese government has suspended all exports of a toy found to have been coated with a toxic chemical, China's official Xinhua news agency says.

The move comes after the authorities in the United States, Australia and a number of other countries removed the Bindeez and Aqua Dots toys from sale.

The toy has been blamed for causing illness among a number of children.

The Chinese authorities are reported to have sealed stocks where they were produced, and ordered an investigation.

It is the latest in a number of scandals which have questioned the quality of Chinese-made products.

Date rape drug

Seven more children in the US are reported to have fallen sick after swallowing the toy's bead like parts - which have been found to contain a substance linked to the date-rape drug GHB.

That brings the total of US children needing treatment after swallowing the product to nine. Four children in Australia and two in New Zealand have also fallen sick.

The victims all suffered from dizziness and drowsiness and two of the US children slipped into comas. They have since recovered.

The craft toy has proved extremely popular in both the US and Australia. In 2007, Bindeez was named Australia's Toy of the Year.

It consists of hundreds of brightly-coloured beads that can be arranged into a piece of art and sprayed with water to set.

The beads are meant to be coated in a non-toxic glue, but a batch in Australia was found to be covered with a substance that did not match the approved formula.

Tests showed they were coated with the industrial chemical 1,4-butanediol - which transforms into the banned drug GHB when swallowed.

About 4.2 million units of the toy will be recalled in the US, officials said, and about one million in Australia.

Neither the toys' maker, Australia-based Moose Enterprises, nor the Chinese government have identified the factory or factories where the toys were produced.

China moves to cool its inflation

The central bank wants to reduce the levels of yuan in the economy
China's central bank has moved to cool inflation by raising the proportion of funds that the county's lenders must keep in reserve rather than lend out.

Aiming to cut the levels of yuan in circulation, the People's Bank of China is increasing the banking reserve ratio by half a percentage point to 13.5%.

To take effect from 29 November, it will be a record high for the reserve ratio, and the ninth rise this year.

China's inflation is near a 10-year high, driven by its booming economy.

Chinese inflation hit 6.5% in August, its highest level since 1997, before declining slightly to 6.2% in September.

October's data, which is out on Tuesday, is expected to show that inflation has risen again to 6.4%.

The central bank predicts the Chinese economy will grow at a breakneck 11% this year, as exports continue to surge.

China has also raised interest rates five times this year, another move to cool inflation.

"The reserve ratio rise is a signal that the central bank is still in liquidity tightening mode and is very keen to control loan growth," said a trader at a European bank in Shanghai.

"The new level of 13.5% suggests there is no ceiling, so the bank may raise reserve ratios again this year."

Asian stocks down on credit fears

Asian stock board
Shares in Asian exporters have been hit by the weaker US currency
Asian stocks have slumped, as resurgent credit fears have pushed the value of the US dollar down further, harming export-oriented firms.

Tokyo's Nikkei ended 2.48% down at 15,197.09 and the broader Topix slid 2.54% to 1,456.40 - both 15-year lows. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 4.5%.

Also lower was Singapore's Straits Times Index, which fell 2.8%,

Analysts said the trend was in response to Friday's falls in the US, as fears regarding the credit crisis continue.


"I'm afraid factors from overseas, such as sub-prime problems, are coming over to Japan," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura. "We'll closely monitor the situation," he added.

What started as problem in the US housing market, with default rates on mortgages rising in the wake of a series of interest rates rises, later spread to other markets.

As banks begin to reveal their exposure to the sub-prime sector - which specialises in lending to riskier borrowers - there are increasing fears that greater financial losses lie ahead.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.8% on Friday after Wachovia bank said its writedowns on bad mortgage debt would total $1.1bn (£525m) for October alone.

One trader in Japan said: "Its getting to the point where everything seems scary and that its hard to trust what financial institutions are saying."

Other fallers in Asia included China's Shanghai Composite Index, down 2.9%. At the weekend, China's central bank made a move to cool inflation by raising the level of deposits that commercial banks must set aside.

Row delays Harry Potter lexicon

JK Rowling
Rowling says the Lexicon will borrow too heavily from her work
A publisher has agreed to delay the release of a Harry Potter encyclopaedia after being sued by author JK Rowling.

Publisher Roger Rapoport said the book will not be published until a judge rules on whether it violates Rowling's intellectual property rights.

A judge in New York has issued an order barring completion, distribution, marketing or advance sales of the book until further notice.

Written by Steve Vander Ark, it was scheduled for release on 28 November.

Entitled Harry Potter Lexicon, it is based on material from an internet fan site of the same name.

Mr Rapoport, whose company is based in Michigan, said he had given a copy of the Lexicon to Warner Bros lawyers - who hold the copyright to the Harry Potter books - in the hope that they would read it and decide that it did not violate copyright.

"I think they should drop it. I'm hopeful that they will," he said.

'Massively disappointed'

Rowling's lawsuit, filed on 31 October, sought an injunction blocking publication of the book on the grounds that it would borrow too heavily from her work and spoil plans to eventually publish her own encyclopaedia of Harry Potter's world.

Rowling had supported the Lexicon website, but she and Warner Bros said they saw a difference between fans publishing information for free on the internet, and selling it in the form of a book.

Rowling said she took "no pleasure" in preventing the Lexicon's publication.

"On the contrary, I feel massively disappointed that this matter had to come to court at all," she said.

"Given my past good relations with the Lexicon fan site, I can only feel sad and disillusioned that this is where we have ended up."

Music 'hidden' in Last Supper art

detail of The Last Supper
The painting's loaves of bread allegedly correspond to notes
A computer technician has claimed to have cracked a real Da Vinci code, by finding musical notes encoded in the masterpiece The Last Supper.

Leonardo Da Vinci left clues to a 40-second musical composition in his painting, Giovanni Maria Pala said.

Each loaf of bread in the picture represents a note, he said, which combine to sound "like a requiem".

Alessandro Vezzosi, director of Tuscany's Da Vinci museum, said the theory was "plausible".

The 15th century painting depicts Jesus' last meal with the 12 Apostles before his arrest and crucifixion.

'Emphasises passion'

Mr Pala found that by drawing the five lines of a musical staff across the painting, the loaves of bread on the table and the hands of Jesus and the Apostles could each represent a musical note.

The notes make sense musically when the resulting score is read from right to left, following Da Vinci's own writing style, Mr Pala said in his book La Musica Celata (The Hidden Music).

The result is a 40-second "hymn to God" which Mr Pala described as "like a soundtrack that emphasises the passion of Jesus".

Mr Vezzosi, director of the Museo Ideale in the painter's home town Vinci, said that while Da Vinci was noted for his paintings, sculptures and inventions, he was also a musician.

"There's always a risk of seeing something that is not there, but it's certain that the spaces (in the painting) are divided harmonically," he said.

"Where you have harmonic proportions, you can find music."

Third charged in conspiracy case

Amy Winehouse arrives at Thames Magistrates Court with her father
Amy Winehouse watched the proceedings on Saturday
A third man has been charged by police investigating claims Amy Winehouse's husband was involved in a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

James King, 36, of Derbyshire, is due to appear at Thames Magistrates' Court on Monday.

On Saturday, Ms Winehouse's husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, 25, of Camden, north London, was remanded in custody by magistrates until 23 November.

He was one of five men arrested after a raid at their home last week.

Police raid

Anthony Kelly, 25, of Chalk Farm, north London was also remanded in custody by the Thames Magistrates' Court.

Ms Winehouse attended the hearing on Saturday, along with her father, Mitch.

Mr Fielder-Civil and Mr Kelly will appear at Snaresbrook Crown Court on 23 November.

All three men are accused of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in relation to a court case due to get under way on Monday.

Two other men, aged 19 and 22, arrested during the Metropolitan Police inquiry have been released on bail.

Police searched Ms Winehouse's home in north London as part of their investigation, although the couple were not in at the time of the raid.

Chinese author scoops book prize

Chinese author Jiang Rong has won the inaugural Man Asian Literary Prize with his best-selling novel Wolf Totem.

Jiang spent 11 years living with nomadic communities in the Mongolian grasslands and the book draws on his experiences there.

The award honours literature from the region which has not yet been published in English.

"I spent... six years writing Wolf Totem, my only hope was to produce an appealing story," said Jiang, 61.

The author was unable to collect his $10,000 (£4780) at the award ceremony in Hong Kong owing to illness.

'Vivid detail'

Adrienne Clarkson, former governor general of Canada who was one of the three judges, described Wolf Totem as a "panoramic novel".

"The slowly developing narrative is rendered in vivid detail and has a powerful cumulative effect," she added in a statement.

The English version of the book is due to be published in March next year.

The four other wriJustify Fullters shortlisted for the prize were Jose Dalisay Jr, Reeti Gadekar, Nu Nu Yi Inwa and Xu Xi.

Sarkozy leads tributes to Mailer

Norman Mailer

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has led the tributes to US author Norman Mailer, who died on Saturday.

"It is a giant of American literature who has disappeared," Mr Sarkozy said.

Mailer, who won the Pulitzer Prize twice for The Armies of the Night in 1968 and The Executioner's Song in 1979, died of renal failure aged 84.

He was known for biting prose and as an antagonist of the feminist movement. His latest work, The Castle in the Forest, was published this year.

Last month he had surgery to remove scar tissue from around his lung.

The president of Mailer's publisher, Random House, said he was "more than... one of the greatest writers of our time".

"He was a consummate professional, who stimulated us with his passion and ideas and charmed us with his wit and warmth," said Gina Centrello.

Author Gore Vidal described Mailer as "interesting, because he was interested".

"I went... a year or two ago... and stayed with him. He was in good form. We both dislike the same things about our native land so we had lots to talk about," Vidal said.

Writer EL Doctorow said Mailer was "the great chronicler of his time".

"His vaunted life as a public figure may have actually impeded serious critical attention to much of his work. Presumably, it will be possible now," he said.

Born in 1923 in New Jersey, Mailer wrote dozens of books as well as plays, poems, screenplays and essays.

His strong views on US political life, and the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, provoked and enraged readers.

'Intellectual bully'

Mailer's first major success, the 1948 novel The Naked and the Dead, was a fictionalised account based on his experiences in the Army in World War II.

"A man who went to a famous prep school in the early 1920s said afterward, 'It was the worst experience of my life and the most valuable.' I can say the same about my time in the US Army," he reflected in 2005.

Mailer's works were often filled with violence, sexual obsession and views that angered feminists.

Married six times and the father of nine children, Mailer once said he was worried women were "going to take over the world".

Detractors considered him an intellectual bully and he feuded with fellow authors including Truman Capote, William Styron, Tom Wolfe and Norman Podhoretz.

In later life he reconsidered many of his old positions but never surrendered his right to speak his mind.

Mailer was also co-founder of The Village Voice alternative newspaper in New York.

Jackson 'will not lose Neverland'

Neverland Ranch (archive image from 2004)
Jackson left the ranch after being acquitted of child abuse in 2005
Pop star Michael Jackson is in no danger of losing his Neverland ranch due to debt, his spokeswoman has said.

She denied reports that the singer had defaulted on a $23m (£11m) loan on the California ranch, saying he was in the process of refinancing the building.

The ranch was listed on a Santa Barbara County foreclosure report this week.

Jackson left the ranch when acquitted of child abuse in 2005. In August, finance firm Prescient Acquisition said he had debts of $272.5m (£130m).

The 1,100 hectare (2,800 acre) Neverland ranch was named after a fictional world in the story Peter Pan and contains amusement park rides and a zoo.

"Mr Jackson is in the final stages of refinance and will not lose Neverland Valley Ranch," his spokeswoman Raymone Bain said.

The 49-year-old singer closed the ranch after his trial and has since lived in Ireland, Dubai, Bahrain and Las Vegas.

Earlier this month, he told US magazine Ebony that he was now living on America's east coast.

Broadway stagehands go on strike

Broadway stagehands in front of Les Miserables at the Broadhurst Theatre, New York, 10 November
Broadway is considered one of New York's main tourist attractions
Stagehands at theatres on Broadway in New York have gone on strike, shutting down more than 20 plays and musicals including The Lion King and Mamma Mia.

The stagehands, who are responsible for moving scenery and equipment, have set up picket-lines in front of theatres.

The strike comes after three months of negotiations between producers and a union about pay and working conditions failed to produce an agreement.

No new talks are scheduled and it is unclear how long the strike will last.

All but eight Broadway shows have been shut down and producers say they plan to pay refunds to people who have bought tickets for cancelled shows.

Economic impact

A long strike could spell disaster for shows that have actors on short contracts or little in the way of advance sales.

It comes at a time that is traditionally one of Broadway's busiest of the year.

The lights last went out during a strike by musicians four years ago.

These guys on strike over here are the backbone of Broadway - they are the guys who keep me safe
Patrick Page

Lasting four days, that strike cost the city about $7m (£3.3m) a day, city tourism officials said at the time.

This is the first time the Local One stagehands' union has called a strike on Broadway.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg said he had spoken to both the theatre owners and the stagehands.

"While this is a private labour matter, the economic impact is very public and will be felt far beyond the theatres closed today," he said, adding that "the city continues to stand ready to help in any way we can."

The dispute has largely been over work rules that govern how many stagehands must be called for work, how long they work, and what kind of tasks they can perform.

The League of American Theatres and Producers wants more flexibility in those rules so as to avoid paying for workers who have nothing to do.

"Our goal is simple - to pay for workers we need and for work that is actually performed," Charlotte St Martin, executive director of the league said.

But the union says theatre owners have been unclear about what offsetting benefits stagehands can have in return.

Actor Patrick Page, star of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, said he supported the strike but hoped for an early settlement:

"These guys on strike over here are the backbone of Broadway. They are the guys who keep me safe, when I get hoisted up in the air in the show, they are the guys who put light on me, who make sure everything happens."

"I know that the Actors Equity Association really supports the guys at Local One, I am a member of the union and we all just want the shows to happen again," he said.

The Broadway strike follows hot on the heels of a separate screenwriters' strike which began in Hollywood last week, prompted by a disagreement over royalty payments.

Ferguson hails 'strongest' squad

Man Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson
Ferguson is revelling in the quality of his Manchester United squad
Boss Sir Alex Ferguson saw Manchester United beat Blackburn 2-0 to head the Premier League and claimed his squad is the strongest in 21 years at the club.

Ferguson said: "We've got young players led by Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo and more in the likes of Carlos Tevez and Nani and Anderson.

"In fact, it is difficult to know when to stop when talking about our important players.

"But this team has to win something. They have a great chance of doing so."

Ronaldo scored twice in United's victory over Blackburn, which moved Ferguson's squad three points clear in the top flight, although second-placed Arsenal visit Reading on Monday night.

But although the Portuguese winger scored the goals - which took him to double figures already for the season - it was the old man of the squad, Ryan Giggs, who Ferguson singled out for praise.

Ferguson added: "He is 34 at the end of the month but I feel he can go on for a few years yet.

"He has been a wonderful servant for this club and he was our best player."

However, Ferguson's opposite number Mark Hughes was not so happy after seeing his side beaten on Sunday.

The Blackburn manager was unable to hide his frustration at referee Chris Foy's dismissal of David Dunn, who picked up a second booking early in the second half.

"He was a little bit quick with the card," Hughes told BBC Sport.

"There should have been a little bit of leeway but after that it was very hard for us. We feel a little bit hard done by."

Ferguson agreed with Hughes that Dunn's red card might have been harsh.

Dunn's second booking was for a trip on Louis Saha and was possibly deserved but Hughes was unhappy with Foy's previous decision to give the Blackburn midfielder a yellow card for a challenge on Tevez.

"It was never a booking - why didn't the assistant help the referee in that situation?" questioned Hughes.

Blackburn were already losing by two goals when Dunn was dismissed and Hughes argued that his side's numerical disadvantage gave them no hope of rescuing the game.

"Little things went away from us and we didn't quite get the run of the ball," he added. "We didn't have a chance to show the team we are."

Russian oil tanker splits in half

Russian TV grab of freighter caught in storm - 11/11/07
Russian TV showed pictures of other boats damaged in the storm

Up to 2,000 metric tons of fuel oil have leaked near the Black Sea after a Russian oil tanker split in half.

It came apart after it was smashed by 108km/h (67 mph) winds and 5m (16ft) waves in the Kerch Strait between the Azov and Black Seas.

Four other ships sank in the storm, some of them carrying dangerous cargos, and several more were in trouble.

The tanker's 13 crew were rescued after several hours, but more than 20 were reported missing from the other ships.

Dozens of vessels have reportedly been evacuated from the busy Russian commercial port of Kavkaz because of the storm.

'Sinking to seabed'

The broken oil tanker, the Volganeft-139, was at anchor when its stern tore apart in Ukrainian waters on the busy waterway dividing that country and Russia, officials said.


A regional prosecutor told local media the tanker was designed in the Soviet era to transport oil on rivers and was not meant to withstand heavy storms.

Another official told the BBC that almost half of the ship's cargo of more than 4,000 tons of fuel oil had been spilt.

Russian environmentalist Vladimir Slivyak told local media the tanker accident was a "very serious environmental disaster".

The heavy oil was sinking to the seabed and could take years to clean up, he said.

But the oil spill is small by comparison with the Prestige disaster off Spain five years ago.

Severe habitat damage was caused to beaches in Spain, France and Portugal when a tanker leaked 64,000 tons of fuel oil in November 2002.

Three other vessels that sank in Sunday's storm were carrying thousands of tons of sulphur.

Meanwhile, 15 crew members were reportedly missing from a scrap metal ship that sank 300km (187 miles) further west, near Sevastopol on Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

Yet more ships ran aground or slipped anchor and drifted at the mercy of the storm.

A second oil tanker was being monitored closely because its hull had developed cracks.

Key Khmer Rouge figures arrested

Ieng Sary (file photo)
Ieng Sary has repeatedly denied responsibility for any crimes
Police in Cambodia have arrested two leading figures from the 1970s Khmer Rouge regime to face charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary and his wife, Ieng Thirith, were taken into custody in the capital, Phnom Penh.

They were taken to appear before judges at a UN-backed genocide tribunal.

The two were at the heart of the Khmer Rouge regime, under whose brutal four-year rule more than one million people are thought to have died.

A tribunal was established last year to bring surviving leaders of the regime to the dock.

"Today Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith have been arrested in execution of an arrest warrant... for crimes against humanity and war crimes as regards Ieng Sary and for crimes against humanity concerning Ieng Thirith," a statement from the tribunal said.

Purge of intellectuals

Police surrounded the couple's Phnom Penh house early in the morning.

They searched the house for three hours and then drove Ieng Sary and his wife to the tribunal in a convoy of vehicles.

The couple, who have been living freely in the Cambodian capital for more than 10 years, were key members of the Khmer Rouge leadership.

Ieng Sary was Pol Pot's brother-in-law - his wife's sister was married to the Khmer Rouge founder. His wife, Ieng Thirith, was the Khmer Rouge's social affairs minister.

As foreign minister, he was often the only point of contact between Cambodia's rulers and the outside world.

He was responsible for convincing many educated Cambodians who had fled the Khmer Rouge to return to help rebuild the country.

Many were then tortured and executed as part of the purge of intellectuals, some of them diplomats from his own office.

Prosecutors for the tribunal have said there is evidence of Ieng Sary's participation in crimes, including planning, directing and co-ordinating forced labour and unlawful killings.

Ieng Sary has repeatedly denied any crime. In 1996 he became the first senior leader from the Maoist regime to defect and as a result was granted a royal pardon.

But analysts say the validity of that agreement looks set to be tested with his arrest by the court.

Ageing leaders

Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith are the third and fourth people to be targeted by the tribunal.

In September, Pol Pot's second-in command, 82-year-old Nuon Chea, was charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Two months before that, Kang Kek Ieu - or Duch - the head of the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, was charged with crimes against humanity.

Their trials, before a team of Cambodian and international judges, are expected to start in 2008.

Other top leaders are already dead. Pol Pot died in 1998 and Ta Mok - the regime's military commander and one of his most ruthless henchmen - died in July 2006.

Seeking a cure for Italy's football disease

There were no games in Italy this weekend, no Milan debut for Ronaldo, not even a Sunday league park match. The stadiums and football pitches were empty.

AC Milan's goalkeeper Dida is hit by a missile in a Milan derby in 2005
AC Milan's goalkeeper Dida is hit by a missile at a Milan derby

The Italian federation took a decision on Friday night to suspend the league indefinitely after riots at the Sicilian derby between Palermo and Catania.

Fans fought running battles with police and a 38-year-old officer was killed. A total of 29 people were arrested, several of them under the age of 18.

To those who follow Italian football, the violence, while appalling, was not surprising. It is now endemic at Italian stadiums.

English lesson

There is a growing core of fans for whom the game is incidental - they come to the stadium to fight and many of them come armed.

I think football should stop for a year in order to reflect on the evils that exist
Sergio Campana,
players' association president

Investigators say they discovered the remains of crude bombs, weapons and drugs after Friday night's Catania game.

People from all sides of the game have expressed their concern.

The Italy coach Roberto Donadoni said he believed the hooliganism should have been properly dealt with years ago.

"We don't practise what we preach," he said. "We've been talking about these incidents for years and they still keep on happening."

So frustrated was Sergio Campana, president of the players' association, that he said the game should stop for a year while it was cleaned up.

Palermo players try to get away from the tear gas during their game with Catania
Palermo players try to get away from tear gas at the Catania game

"If in England they've managed to beat every type of violence, I see no reason why we can't do the same," Mr Campana said.

"In England you see teams that have been relegated applauded by their fans, here our players are hit because they lose one game. I think football should stop for a year in order to reflect on the evils that exist."

Legislation to try to clamp down on violence was introduced over a year ago, including named tickets, more CCTV cameras, extra stewards and body searches at turnstiles.

But flares, bottles and offensive banners are seen regularly at matches in Serie A.

Clear evidence, say critics, that security is still not taken seriously.

Stadium security

Some of the violence at the stadiums is political.

A study by Italian police two years ago found that of Italy's top 128 professional clubs, 42 had significant political orientations among their fans, with 27 veering significantly to the right and 15 to the far left.

Italian PM Romano Prodi
PM Romano Prodi has demanded a "strong and clear signal"

When far right meets far left it is never pleasant.

The head of the Italian Football Federation, Luca Pancalli, will meet the government to discuss the problem on Monday.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi has demanded a "strong and clear signal".

"We need drastic measures to prevent the degeneration of this sport," he said.

Sports Minister Giovanna Melandri says the federation should follow the English solution to hooliganism.

That would mean more CCTV in and around stadiums, tougher sentences for fans convicted of violence and financial penalties for clubs that fail to introduce better safety measures.

The Italian Olympic Committee, which oversees all the sporting federations in Italy, said Sunday that stadiums whose security was inadequate should be banned from hosting games next season.

Many clubs have so far refused to spend the money because they rent their grounds from the local council.

The new UEFA president Michel Platini has backed the Italian Football Federation's strong stance.

"I am deeply concerned," he said. "The violence is creeping back into the European game."

"Violence of any sort is unacceptable and it has absolutely no place in the game of football. We do not condone it, we must not accept it and we must act to eradicate it."

Italy fans rampage after killing

Italy fans rampage after killing
Vehicle burned in Rome 1111
Rioters set vehicles alight near Rome's Stadio Olimpico
Italian football fans have reacted violently inside and outside stadiums following the police shooting of a Lazio supporter.

Gabriele Sandri, 26, was shot in what police called a "tragic error" as they tried to stop violence between rival fans at a motorway stop in Tuscany.

A match between Atalanta and AC Milan was stopped as fans and police clashed. There was violence at other games.

Later hundreds of fans rampaged in Rome and there were more protests in Milan.

Police chiefs, politicians and football administrators will be meeting on Monday to seek to limit the damage from the weekend's incidents.

Bus torched

The worst violence was in the capital, where hundreds of armed fans attacked a police barracks and the Italian Olympic Committee headquarters.


Sunday's late match between AS Roma and Cagliari had been postponed as a precaution but fans wielding rocks and clubs turned up outside the Stadio Olimpico.

Security guards in the Olympic headquarters barricaded themselves in as fans outside smashed windows and burned vehicles as they clashed with police.

The mob blocked off one end of a bridge over the Tiber and ordered motorists to leave the area.

A bus was torched and several people including police were injured.

There were also angry scenes in central Milan near the offices of the broadcaster RAI, as fans hurled rocks at a police station and beat up two journalists.

Gabriele Sandri
Gabriele Sandri worked as a disc jockey in the Italian capital

In Bergamo, where Atalanta were playing AC Milan, police and fans clashed ahead of the match.

The game was abandoned 10 minutes after kick-off, when fans tried to smash down a barrier and force their way onto the pitch.

In Siena, supporters shouted "murderers" at police.

There was also violence at lower league games in southern Italy.

Seven of the top league games started 10 minutes late with players wearing black armbands although atmospheres remained tense.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi called for a full investigation into the shooting and said the violence was "very worrying".

'Tragic error'

Mr Sandri, a 26-year-old disc jockey from Rome, was a Lazio fan on his way to a match with Inter Milan.

Scene of shooting near Arezzo - 11/11/07
The victim was shot near a motorway restaurant in Tuscany

Lazio fans and supporters of Juventus on their way to a match at Parma reportedly clashed at the service station near Arezzo.

Mr Sandri was apparently shot while in a car outside the motorway restaurant.

Police suggested he may have been killed by a warning shot.

The exact details of the shooting are unclear and an investigation is under way.

"It was a tragic error," said Arezzo police chief Vincenzo Giacobbe.

"Our agent had intervened to prevent the brawl between these two groups, who had not been identified as fans," Mr Giacobbe said, according to the Italian news agency Ansa.

The Inter-Lazio game was postponed.

In April the Italian government introduced a law aimed at stamping out football hooliganism.

It was enacted after a policeman was killed in rioting at a match in Sicily in February.

The BBC's Frances Kennedy in Rome says that despite the new anti-hooliganism measures, Sunday's explosion of anger shows that violence is never far from the surface.