Serbian Government Promises Repression In Response to Attack on Policeman

Red Star Policeman On FireYesterday, we reported that after fans of Serbia’s Red Star Belgrade uncovered a policeman covertly filming them in the stands, they responded by attacking him with flares. His clothes were set on fire, he was beaten with chairs, and he was left badly burned and bruised.

Some fans are pointing out that he did not help matters by firing warning shots from his gun, given the death of Italian ultra Gabriele Sandri a few weeks ago from what was reported as a policeman’s “warning shot”. Riot police then moved in on the fans, and three were arrested.

The good news to report today is that the policeman is in a stable condition in hospital. The bad news is that in my view, the words of the Serbian government sound like they could lead to more conflict and trouble.

Sports and youth minister Snezana Samardzic-Markovic told Reuters that “While educational measures are desirable, repressive action is necessary and police have no choice but to act swiftly and decisively while the justice ministry should do the same.”

Serbian football is in a state of crisis, under suspicion by UEFA for involvement in match-fixing, in conflict over the causes of the failure to qualify for Euro 2008 (the sporting director, former Juventus player Zoran Mirković, resigned last week), and on Saturday the game between Mladost and Bežanija was abandoned when the visitors’ players walked off after two of their players had been sent-off and a penalty was awarded against them. The game was abandoned.

In the comments to the previous post, the question of whether Serbia should be banned from UEFA was brought up and debated. Is that the right response? Is repressive action the answer as the government says?

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