Police-free match in Portugal suspended for fan violence

Reuters, Monday 25 Feb 2013

Vitoria de Guimaraes and Braga's reserve squads match was suspended after fans clashed in the stands

A Portuguese second division match between Vitoria de Guimaraes and Braga's reserve squads was suspended after fans clashed in the stands, raising safety concerns about austerity-driven spending cuts that left several Premier League and amateur games without police protection.

Dozens of fans at Sunday's fixture in the D. Afonso Henriques stadium in Guimaraes were seen clashing and throwing chairs flying around, Portuguese television footage showed on Monday, prompting the referee to suspend the match seven minutes after its start.

Hosts Guimaraes decided not to request policing for the match, as allowed under a new transitional money-saving law, so there were only stewards and private security in the stadium. The unrest was contained after police in the surrounding area rushed to the stadium.

There were no details on the number of injuries.

Portuguese league boss Mario Figueiredo blamed the events on the new laws.

"This vandalism and violence is regrettable and alarming," Figueiredo told reporters. "It cannot be up to clubs to finance the police paying for expensive extra hours," he said.

Internal administration minister Miguel Macedo defended the new rule, brought in during a crunching economic crisis in the debt-laden country, arguing the host team should take more responsibility.

"Those who organise the match must vouch for security in the stadium. It has always been like that," he said.

The head of the referees' association told Reuters last month that the new law threatens referees' safety and the future of profession.

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