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Northern Ireland face cauldron of fury in Italy

By Paul Ferguson

Published 05/06/2009

Italian police watch over Northern Ireland players as they train ahead of the match with Italy in Pisa
Italian police watch over Northern Ireland players as they train ahead of the match with Italy in Pisa

Furious Pisa fans are set to vent their anger at Northern Ireland’s lucrative friendly against Italy tomorrow night after their local team were relegated to the third tier of Italian football last weekend.

The supporters are livid that their Arena Garibaldi Stadium is being used to host an international match, which is viewed in their opinion, “as a celebration of Italian football”.

Trouble flared inside the ground after Pisa’s late defeat on the final day of the season condemned them to life in Serie C next season.

The local Ultra group, The Curva Nord, have issued a statement insisting they do not want the game to go ahead. But the Italian FA are adamant this friendly will be staged in Pisa.

Italy coach Marcello Lippi said: "There could be an unpleasant atmosphere, especially for the newcomers. I can understand the Pisa fans’ bitter disappointment and disillusionment, but we have an agreement — and the national side will play in Pisa."

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