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Inter Milan fan dies after clashes with Napoli supporters

December 27, 2018
Napoli's Fabian Ruiz, right, misses a scoring chance during a Serie A soccer match between Inter Milan and Napoli, at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

MILAN (AP) — An Inter Milan fan died following clashes with Napoli supporters outside San Siro Stadium ahead of a Serie A game on Wednesday, which was also marred by racist chants.

Milan police chief Marcello Cardona said Thursday that investigators believe the 35-year-old fan, Daniele Belardinelli, may have been fatally struck by a van or SUV during the clashes.

Four Napoli fans were injured and at least three people arrested.

“You can’t die from going to the stadium to see a soccer match,” Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said.

Salvini added that he would gather club and fan representatives from all Serie A and B teams for a meeting to make sure “football returns to being a moment of fun and not violence. We’ll see if we can do what others weren’t able to.”

Cardona said he will request that Inter fans be banned from traveling to away games for the rest of the season and that the northern end of the San Siro, where Inter’s “ultra” fans are based, be closed until March 31.

Inter won Wednesday’s match 1-0.

The game was also marred by racist chants which targeted Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

The Senegal international, who had monkey noises directed at him throughout the match, received two yellow cards in quick succession, the second for sarcastically applauding the referee after being shown the first.

After the game, Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti threatened to lead his team off the field the next time one of his players was subjected to continued racist abuse. Ancelotti asked several times for the match against Inter to be halted, and announcements warning fans this would happen were made but no further action was taken.

It was the first time Serie A matches took place on Dec. 26 in nearly 50 years — since 1971.

Italian football federation president Gabriele Gravina said the incidents that occurred inside and outside the stadium were “no longer tolerable” and that he intends to simplify the rules for suspending matches.

It’s not the first time that clashes between rival fans have led to deaths in Italy.

Napoli supporter Ciro Esposito died 50 days after he was shot by a Roma supporter before the 2014 Italian Cup final.

That incident came before a match that Roma was not even involved in — although Napoli’s 3-1 win over Fiorentina was held in Rome.

Also, police officer Filippo Raciti was killed during riots following a Sicilian derby between Catania and Palermo in 2007.

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