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Brazilian fan group banned from sports events because of fighting in league match last year

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SAO PAULO - A Brazilian football club's fan group has been indefinitely banned from attending sports events because of its involvement in a brutal fight last year.

Members of the Vasco da Gama group Torcida Jovem are prohibited from entering stadiums, Rio de Janeiro Judge Antonio Augusto de Toledo Gaspar said.

The group had already been banned from football venues for a year, but the judge's ruling late Thursday eliminates the time limit and extends the ban to other events. He said members of the fan group were still "promoting fear and insecurity" inside stadiums despite the original ban.

Hundreds of Vasco fans fought with supporters of Atletico Paranaense in the final round of last year's Brazilian league, interrupting the match for about an hour and leaving four men seriously injured, including one who had to be airlifted from the pitch.

The ruling comes just days after a 34-year-old Santos fan was beaten to death by members of a Sao Paulo fan group following a high-profile match in the state championship last weekend.

Fan groups have been at the root of fan violence in Brazil, which is hosting the World Cup later this year, with confrontations in and outside stadiums becoming a common occurrence. Last year's Brazilian league was marked by brawls, and the fight involving Vasco supporters in the final round made headlines across the world.

Earlier this year, nearly 200 members of a Corinthians fan group invaded the team's training centre to threaten players and demand better results.

FIFA and the local World Cup organizing committee say they don't expect similar confrontations between fans groups during World Cup matches, where security will be tighter.

In his ruling, the judge said the Vasco fan group has to pay a $4,200 fine if its members disobey the court order. The group also has to provide authorities a list of all of its members so police can keep track of them.

As part of the original ruling last month, those who were identified as taking part in the fighting last year have to report to authorities 15 minutes before matches and stay in a police station until half an hour after the final whistle. They have to pay an $800 fine if they don't show up.

Vasco had already been punished for fan violence before the fighting late last year and had to play four matches away from home.

Although usually there is no direct link between clubs and the fan groups, they are known to receive benefits such as free tickets and transportation to matches. They also attend other sports events that the club participates in, like basketball and volleyball tournaments.

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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