Serbia needs British model to crush hooliganism - Borovcanin

Mon Nov 4, 2013 6:49am EST
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By Zoran Milosavljevic

BELGRADE (Reuters) - The Serbian government must follow in Britain's footsteps in preventing soccer hooliganism after yet another Belgrade derby was marred by fan violence, the Balkan country's senior sports official Nenad Borovcanin said.

Borovcanin, a former professional boxer, made his comments after fan riots before and during Saturday's clash between Red Star and bitter rivals Partizan.

"The response of the state must be strong like the one Britain made when they removed the fences and replaced them with severe punishment for all offenders," the 34-year old secretary of sport told state television RTS on Monday.

"If the authorities are consistent and willing to deal with this problem there is no chance that what we saw on Saturday will happen again, but the government must show that it's stronger than hooligans," he said.

The violent scenes that blighted English football in the 1970s and 1980s have largely been eradicated with the advent of all-seater stadia in the Premier League era.

Dozens of fans were arrested in the Serbian capital as rival supporters clashed on the outskirts of Belgrade before kickoff, while play was held up for 10 minutes in the second half after Partizan fans lit a massive bonfire in their section.

Seats in the south tier had been removed before the game for safety reasons but that did not stop Partizan fans from creating a billowing cloud of smoke which filled the stadium, after they used whatever flammable objects they could get to start the fire.

It was an all too familiar scene in a fixture which has a long history of crowd trouble, with Red Star supporters burning seats in Partizan's stadium and pelting their team bus with rocks before the game in May, when 92 fans were arrested after they also fought running battles in the city.   Continued...