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Football: Italian Cup final delayed following pre-match shootings

The Italian Cup final between Fiorentina and Napoli was momentarily delayed on Saturday following pre-match shootings, with reports suggesting four men had been injured, one seriously.

ROME: The Italian Cup final between Fiorentina and Napoli was momentarily delayed on Saturday following pre-match shootings, with reports suggesting four men had been injured, one seriously.

Over 30,000 fans from both clubs were estimated to have travelled to the capital for the Cup final at Rome's Olympic Stadium.

However several reports, including one from Gazzetta dello Sport, suggested the clashes were caused by fans of Roma fighting with those of Napoli.

Gazzetta's website report said four men had been injured, one of whom was a policeman in civilian clothing.

Earlier, domestic news agency ANSA reported that three supporters had suffered gunshot wounds in a violent prelude to the final.

"These incidents are simply unacceptable," said Maurizio Beretta, the president of Lega Serie A which also organises the Cup competition.

"We appeal to the fans who are here for the final to treat it as it should be -- an evening of sport and football and not one that should give rise to episodes of violence."

No official reason was given for the delay in proceedings. The match, due to kick off at 2100 local time (1900 GMT), had still not kicked off half an hour later.

However discussions between dozens of officials took place just before kick-off, when Napoli fans in the Curva Nord (North End) began throwing rocket flares towards the pitch.

In an apparent bid to calm some of the more hardline fans in the Curva Nord, Napoli forward Marek Hamsik was eventually ushered over to speak to supporters.

Meanwhile, Italian Senate president Pietro Grosso said: "A football match shouldn't be about battles between two sets of supporters.

"We're here to see a final, to enjoy the game in a festive and sporting atmosphere. I'm saddened to see that this kind of thing is still going on."

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