League Leader Banned From UEFA Cup
GENEVA (AP) _ Fiorentina of Italy was thrown out of this season’s UEFA Cup on Sunday because of an explosion that injured an official and caused a game to be suspended last week.
Fiorentina, the leader in the Italian League, said it will appeal. If that fails, the Swiss club Grasshoppers will advance to the third round of the UEFA Cup against France’s Bordeaux.
UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, said the punishment could have been more severe. However, UEFA determined the explosive device was aimed at the Fiorentina team and not at the Swiss club or game officials.
With Fiorentina leading 2-1 at halftime at Salerno, Italy, the UEFA Cup game was suspended after a Belgian official was injured by the explosive hurled from the stands.
Philippe Flament, who was stationed at midfield helping the referee and linesmen, was hospitalized to treat an injured right knee. Several players were temporarily deafened.
``We welcome the decision of UEFA and think it’s a sensible decision given the circumstances,″ Grasshoppers president Romano Spadaro said.
UEFA said Fiorentina was responsible for security inside and outside the stadium, even though it was not its home field.
The game had been shifted to Salerno, near Naples in southern Italy, because of violence by Fiorentina fans during a 1997 Cup Winners’ Cup game.
UEFA said Fiorentina’s record of poor conduct been taken into account in this latest ruling.
The UEFA Cup is the least lucrative of the three European club tournaments. Still, it is an important source of money for the clubs.
Fiorentina remains on course for a place in next season’s European Cup. It regained first place in the Italian League on Sunday with a 4-1 win over last-place Venezia.