Soccer-Atletico receive death threats ahead of Marseille game

MADRID Tue Dec 2, 2008 11:25am GMT

MADRID Dec 2 (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid have received death threats ahead of next week's trip to Olympique Marseille in the Champions League, the Primera Liga club said on Tuesday.

More than 100 emails and faxes have arrived at the Calderon, mainly in support of Marseille fan Santos Mirasierra, who is still in custody in Spain after the crowd problems that marred the Group D match between the sides on Oct. 1.

The text of some of the messages, written in French, Spanish and English, were printed in the Spanish media on Tuesday and threatened violence against the club and their supporters if they travelled for the Dec. 9 encounter in Marseille.

Some went as far as to issue death threats.

Mirasierra, who was charged with public order offences and assaulting a police officer, faces an eight-year jail term as recommended by the Spanish state prosecutor, and will receive the verdict in Madrid on Wednesday.

Some of the messages received threatened to kill eight Atletico fans, one for each year of the sentence faced by Mirasierra.

ATLETICO WARNING

Atletico have warned their supporters against travelling to Marseille next week.

The club, who top Group D on goal difference from Liverpool, have already secured their place in the knockout phase and will compete with the former European champions for first place in the last round of matches.

Marseille are level on points with PSV Eindhoven in the battle to finish third and clinch a UEFA Cup spot.

Atletico beat Marseille 2-1 at home on Oct. 1, but there were confrontations between visiting fans and local police before the kickoff.

UEFA said failures in Atletico's organisation of the game led to the problems and initially ordered them to play their following two European fixtures at least 300 km outside Madrid.

The two-match ban was later reduced to one played at home behind closed doors on appeal.

Atletico served their punishment in the 2-1 home win over PSV Eindhoven last week.

(Writing by Mark Elkington, editing by Ken Ferris)