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Rome Could Lose '09 Champions League Final
ESPN Soccernet, March 31st, 2008 3:30PM



Soccer's European governing body on Monday warned Roma fans that the 2009 UEFA Champions League final could be moved from their beloved Stadio Olimpico if any trouble arises when Roma faces Manchester United in the Champions League quarterfinal on Tuesday night. When the two sides met at the same stage in Rome last year, 10 United fans were stabbed. In 2006, three Middlesbrough fans met a similar fate and there was also more trouble for the visit of Real Madrid in the Champions League second round last month. And that's not to mention the numerous incidents involving knife-wielding gangs before domestic games in Serie A.

UEFA communications director William Gaillard said that even though "the situation inside the stadium has improved dramatically...but we cannot afford to organize the final of the Champions League in a city where people are getting knifed every game." He added: "We will be watching and we are serious that if we have incidents like when Manchester United visited last year or Real Madrid last month, then we would have to reconsider our decision for the 2009 final. We will be watching closely tomorrow and the rest of the season and next season. The police have to do their job."

Meanwhile, Manchester United warned fans to stay away from Rome's famous Campo dei Fiori plaza and to underground transportation routes used by Roma's "ultras."

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