8 months prison for Swedish football fan death

STOCKHOLM - A 28-year-old Swede was sentenced Tuesday to eight months in prison over the death of a rival football supporter ahead of a top Swedish league match this year.

Niclas Wallentinsson - who left the victim dying on the steps of a castle in the southern city of Helsingborg - was found guilty of assault and manslaughter in the second ever case of a football-related death in the Nordic country.

The Helsingborg team supporter was also ordered to pay 452,000 kronor (50,200 euros, US$68,100) in compensation to relatives of the victim, Stefan Isaksson, a 43-year-old Djurgaarden fan from Stockholm.

"There is, in a legal sense, a strong enough link between the assault and the death, even if the cause of death has not been clarified from a medical point of view," the court said in a statement.

"The defendant should have taken into account that the aggression could cause the death." The assault took place ahead of a Swedish All Svenskan league match on March 30 - just 30 minutes before kick off - on a day marred by violent confrontations between supporters of the rival teams.

The defendant invoked self-defence, arguing he was attacked first, but the court dismissed the claim.

The investigation revealed that the victim's head violently hit the stone steps after he fell backwards, and that he died around an hour later.

According to medical experts, his poor health - with weight and cardiovascular problems - and his state of intoxication may have been a determining factor in his death, which could have been avoided by an individual in better shape.

Following a 2013 investigation into football hooliganism - led by former police chief Bjoern Eriksson - the government introduced measures to combat violence at matches, including close circuit cameras and temporary stadium bans on supporters.

Following Tuesday's verdict, Eriksson said Sweden needed to do more to tackle violence outside stadiums.

"A attitude change is needed. There's a tendency in the police to see these as minor crimes... If you are causing trouble around a stadium you should not be there," he told Swedish news agency TT, adding that police should round up the worst offenders ahead of matches.

"People haven't understood the importance (of that) but I'm convinced the pressure will rise now." It was the second death in Sweden in football hooligan-related violence after a supporter died during fighting in Stockholm in 2002 during a game between Gothenburg and Stockholm team AIK.