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Brazil vows to act after outbreak of hooliganism Sports leaders meet in Doha

RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 10, (AFP): Brazil pledged to stamp out stadium violence Monday after hooliganism marred a weekend first division league game, raising fresh doubts about its ability to stage a trouble-free World Cup. President Dilma Rousseff said Brazil could not and would not tolerate soccer violence after fans of Atletico Paranaense and Vasco Da Gama fought pitched battles in the southern city of Joinville. Graphic television footage showed hundreds of fans of both sides kicking and punching for several minutes with the game only a few minutes old, forcing the referee to call a halt for an hour as order was belatedly restored.
The violence continued unabated as the hooligans ran amok, clashing in several sections of the stands.

At least three fans were hurt with one, believed to have suffered a fractured skull airlifted to safety by helicopter. There was further controversy after police failed to intervene and it later transpired that Atletico had only drafted private security personnel to ‘police’ a “private event.” Rousseff was energetic in her condemnation. “A footballing country cannot live with violence in its stadiums. This violence goes against all that we associate with football,” the president said. “The presence of police is necessary in stadiums,” she added.

Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo also condemned the violence and vowed that his ministry would be asking why military police had not been on hand. “Those responsible must be identified and punished,” Rebelo said. Meanwhile, Sports ministers from all over the world have converged on Doha for the Doha Goals summit which kicked off in the Gulf State on Monday. The closed-door forum sponsored by the Emir of Qatar has also brought together investors, lobbyists and sports personalities.

The question of finance is now fundamental to sports as Brazilians question the amount being spent on the 2014 World Cup while recent Olympics have proved a major drain on national finances. “Sport should not be seen as a burden, it’s an investment,” Congo sports minister Leo-Alfred Opimbat told AFP however as his country prepares to host the 2015 African Games. “We see that sport is taking an ever more important role in the budget of States. Funding is of course up to the State but you have to also seek additional finances.”

The three-day forum will also be the world’s leading platform focusing on sport as a force for social and economic change. The event is being hosted in the Aspire Zone, a huge complex of sports facilities with the most up-to-date technologies. Wealthy but isolated, Doha has in recent years used sport to spearhead its “soft diplomacy” of investing in European clubs and multiplying bids to host major events.

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