Swedish soccer game called off after fan killed
Swedish forward Henrik Larsson, left, of Helsingborg is chased by Djurgarden's Prince Ikpe Ekong during his last soccer match, the Swedish league match between Helsingborgs IF and Djurgardens IF, at the Olympia stadium in Helsingborg, Wednesday Oct. 28, 2009. (AP / Bjorn Lindgren)
The Associated Press
Published Sunday, March 30, 2014 12:04PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, March 30, 2014 6:07PM EDT
STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- A Swedish football league match was called off during the first half Sunday after a Djurgarden supporter died from injuries sustained in an assault before the game in the southern city of Helsingborg.
Police said the the 43-year-old man was found "seriously injured" in central Helsingborg around 2:30 p.m. Sunday and was taken to a hospital, where he later died.
Local media said the Djurgarden supporter had been hit in the head by an object after rival fans started fighting before the game. His name was not released by police, but Swedish media said he was a father of four. Police said no arrests had been made in connection to the killing.
The season-opening game between Helsingborg and Djurgarden was called off in the 41st minute with the score 1-1 after angry Djurgarden fans tried to storm the pitch when word spread that the man had died.
The death overshadowed the opening round of the Swedish league season, which runs from March to November, with politicians, players and clubs all calling for an end to fan violence. Fights between hooligans are still fairly common in Sweden, but this was the first fatal fan violence since 2002, when a 26-year-old man was killed during clashes between supporters of AIK and IFK Goteborg in Stockholm.
"The Djurgarden family is in mourning," the Stockholm club said in a statement. "We can't describe in words how we're feeling right now."
Helsingborg also issued a statement on its website saying "we feel an enormous emptiness" over the incident and that "Swedish football is united in the fight" against violence.
Former Arsenal and Sweden midfielder Fredrik Ljungberg tweeted that "I feel sick" over the incident. Henrik Larsson, the former Celtic, Barcelona and Manchester United striker who played for Helsingborg in the Swedish league and now trains second-division club Falkenberg, told newspaper Expressen that the violence has to stop.
"It's time we do something about this," Larsson was quoted as saying. "We can't send our children to the arenas and not have them come home again."
Former UEFA President Lennart Johansson, a Swede, said dealing with fan violence is a matter for both Swedish authorities and the European football body.
"The evil forces have to go away," Johansson told Expressen. "We have to find clearer measures through a co-operation between clubs, police and authorities."