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Wednesday, August 18, 1999 Published at 22:27 GMT 23:27 UK

World: Europe

Draw for Balkan rivals

A fan is arrested by Serb police for burning a flag

The politically-charged Euro 2000 football match between Yugoslavia and Croatia has ended in a goalless draw in front of a 50,000 crowd.

A power cut temporarily interrupted the tense match in Belgrade 10 minutes into the second half, causing a 40-minute delay.

[ image: The match was goalless when the lights went out]
The match was goalless when the lights went out
Tension had been high in the run-up to the first football game between the two countries since their bitter war in the early 1990s, and relations between the two nations are still far from normal.

During the break caused by the power cut, Yugoslav fans were reported to have shouted anti-government slogans including "Slobo, go away" and "The rally is tomorrow".

They lit candles and torches and also chanted anti-Croatian chants. A seat was also thrown at Croatian coach Miroslav Blazevic.

The BBC's Jacky Rowland: "Football is national obsession in Yuguslavia"
A big opposition rally is planned in Belgrade on Thursday, calling for the resignation of President Slobodan Milosevic - and analysts had speculated that a bad result for Yugoslavia could swell crowds attending the protest.

'Cure our wounds'

In the run-up to the match, one Yugoslav man in Belgrade said the fighting with Croatia had been a long time ago and emotions had calmed down.

[ image: Protests have erupted across Yugoslavia since Nato strikes]
Protests have erupted across Yugoslavia since Nato strikes
But an older man said a win for the Yugoslavs would be "the only cure for our wounds" and they ought to beat Croatia for allowing Nato to cross its territory when attacking Yugoslavia.

Both Yugoslav manager Vujadin Boskov and Croatian coach Miroslav Blazevic had played down the political side of the event.

Hooligans excluded

The Yugoslav football association had attempted to avoid crowd trouble, with no tickets allocated to Croatian fans for the Group 8 match.

The government had also reportedly bought up one-third of the 70,000 seats at the stadium to ensure that the match did not turn into a dress rehearsal for the opposition demonstration on Thursday.

Fans attending the game had to pass several security levels.

Tickets were given to Yugoslav embassies, football clubs and state institutions in an attempt to keep hooligans away.

The result means Yugoslavia remain top of the group with 10 points, one ahead of the Republic of Ireland who are a further point above Croatia.

Croatia needed a draw in the Belgrade encounter to stay in contention to win the group.

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