A van carrying English soccer fans and a car of Italians collided head-on early yesterday, killing the three Italians and the head of the Bournemouth Football Club in England, authorities said.

The accident occurred outside Latina, 40 miles south of Rome, as the English fans were returning from the World Cup game between Italy and Ireland in the Italian capital, police said.

Authorities did not know what caused the crash.

The dead Englishman was Brian Tiler, British Embassy spokeswoman Kay Coombs said.

He and six other English fans were heading back to their hotel at San Felice Circeo, 65 miles south of Rome, when the accident occurred, authorities said. They had planned to attend the England-Cameroon game in Naples.

The six fans were treated at a hospital for injuries. The van driver, who worked at the hotel where the fans were staying, also was injured, police said.

The three Italians were returning home to Velletri from the beach at San Felice, where they had gone for a stroll after watching the Italy-Ireland match on television, authorities said. Irish Fans Are Smiling

About 300,000 wildly cheering Irish fans in Dublin gave their World Cup team a welcome home party they will never forget.

"It could be the biggest Irish welcome ever. It probably compares with the visits of Pope John Paul and President Kennedy," a police spokesman said after the team returned from its quarterfinal loss to Italy in Rome.

"People are blocking the roads all the way from the airport into the city center. Although it is 10 miles, the pavements just aren't wide enough to hold them all," said the police spokesman.

It was a huge outpouring of national affection -- the population of Ireland is only 3.5 million -- for the players who went into the competition as outsiders and ended as folk heroes.

"The Irish team is now on the map of world football," said their English-born manager, Jack Charlton, who looked stunned by the welcome.

The team's chartered plane, christened Saint Jack, swooped low over Dublin airport so the players could catch sight of the 50,000 fans waving Irish flags at them.

They were greeted by Prime Minister Charles Haughey, who had just returned in a government executive jet from the Rome match.

Charlton, revered as an honorary Irishman in the sports-mad country, was proudly clutching a fishing rod given to him by the team on the plane.