BELGRADE (Reuters) - A Euroleague basketball match between Red Star Belgrade and Turkish side Galatasaray will be played under tight security on Friday after a fan was killed when the two sides met earlier this season, the Serbian club said.
“Red Star’s top officials met with security services at state and city level to outline measures required to make the match with Galatasaray an incident-free event,” Red Star said on their official website (www.kkcrvenazvezda.rs) on Monday.
Marko Ivkovic, a 25-year old Red Star fan, was stabbed to death in front of Istanbul’s Abdi Ikpeci Arena on Nov. 21 when rival fans clashed several hours before the two teams met in a preliminary group stage fixture.
Both sides went through to the Top 16, featuring two groups of eight teams playing each other on a double round robin basis, meaning that they will again meet twice with the reverse fixture set for Istanbul on March 12.
Ivkovic’s death also sparked a political conundrum after Galatasaray coach Ergin Ataman, unaware of the tragic outcome of fan violence, called several hundred visiting Red Star fans “terrorists” at the post-match press conference.
Ataman later apologized for his remarks when he learned about the fatality and after Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic had declared him “unwelcome in Serbia.”
Red Star said their president Nebojsa Covic met with Vucic on Monday to clear the way for Ataman to enter Serbia.
“Serbia’s Prime Minister, Mr. Vucic, supported Red Star’s initiative and Ataman will be allowed to come to Serbia and lead his team.
“The Red Star club leadership is investing intense efforts to make sure the match is devoid of any trouble.”
Galatasaray have one win and one defeat while Red Star lost both their opening games in the second group stage.
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic, editing by Pritha Sarkar