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Swedish soccer match called off after man dies amid fan fighting

STOCKHOLM - A Swedish soccer league match was called off during the first half Sunday after a man died following fighting among fans before the game.

The 43-year-old Djurgarden fan was found "seriously injured" about 2:30 p.m. in central Helsingborg in southern Sweden, police said. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.

He reportedly had been hit in the head by an object. Swedish media said Djurgarden fans stormed the field after word spread that the man had died.

Police did not release his name and said no arrests had been made.

"The Djurgarden family is in mourning," the Stockholm club said in a statement. "We can't describe in words how we're feeling right now."

Helsingborg said on its website, "We feel an enormous emptiness." It added that Swedish soccer is "united in the fight" against violence.

The game between Helsingborg and Djurgarden was called off in the 41st minute with the score 1-1.

The death overshadowed the opening round of the Swedish league season, which runs from March to November, with politicians, players and clubs calling for an end to fan violence.

Hooligan fighting is still common in Sweden, but this was the first fatal fan violence since 2002, when a 26-year-old man was killed in Stockholm during clashes between supporters of AIK and IFK Goteborg.

Former Arsenal and Sweden midfielder Fredrik Ljungberg tweeted that "I feel sick" over the death.

Henrik Larsson, a former Celtic, Barcelona and Manchester United striker who played for Helsingborg in the Swedish league and now coaches the second-division club Falkenberg, told the newspaper Expressen the violence has to stop.

"It's time we do something about this," Larsson said. "We can't send our children to the arenas and not have them come home again."

Former UEFA President Lennart Johansson, a Swede, said fan violence is a matter for both Swedish authorities and European soccer's ruling body.

"The evil forces have to go away," Johansson told Expressen. "We have to find clearer measures through a co-operation between clubs, police and authorities."

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