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Brazilian club gets 12-match ban for violence

SAO PAULO -- Brazil's sports tribunal ruled Friday that Atletico Paranaense will have to play 12 matches away from home next year because of the fan violence that marked the final round of the Brazilian league last weekend.

The tribunal also said Vasco da Gama, the visiting team in the southern city of Joinville on Sunday, will play eight home matches away. Both clubs will have to play half of the games in empty stadiums.

Atletico Paranaense was also fined about US$50,000 and Vasco nearly US$35,000.

The tribunal said Atletico Paranaense was punished for failing to provide adequate security as the host team, while Vasco failed to take proper action to prevent the violence from happening.

The clubs said they will appeal and a new trial was set for Dec. 27.

The punishment only applies to matches organized by the Brazilian soccer federation, meaning the teams will be allowed to play at home during the regional championships that start next month.

Because of the sanctions, Atletico Paranaense will likely have to delay its debut in the Arena da Baixada, its new stadium being built for the World Cup.

The match last weekend was being played in Joinville instead of Atletico's base in Curitiba because it had already been punished because of fan violence.

Hundreds of fans from both teams charged against each other in the stands, throwing punches and kicks and using sticks and metal bars in the fighting that left four people injured, including a man who had to be airlifted from the pitch.

The disturbing images from the fight quickly made their way around the world, raising doubts about Brazil's preparedness to host the World Cup next year.

About 80 private security officers were separating the rival fan sections at the Arena Joinville, and the fighting only ended after police arrived firing rubber bullets to disperse the fans.

World Cup organizers have said a similar problem is very unlikely to happen during soccer's showcase tournament next year, when several hundred security guards are expected to work at each match. Nearly 900 worked at Confederations Cup matches this year. They also claim that the dangerous fan groups common in club matches will not be among the World Cup crowd.

The tribunal on Friday also said the local federations and the match referee were not at fault for the incidents in Joinville.

Vasco da Gama, which was relegated after losing the match 5-1, wanted the result annulled because the referee did not follow regulations when he waited 73 minutes to restart the game after the brawl. Tournament regulations say the maximum time is 60 minutes. But the sports tribunal denied the team's request on Thursday, meaning the club will have to play in the second division for the second time in five years.

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