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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 December 2007, 22:14 GMT
Bolton fans held in Serbian hotel
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Bolton fans were prevented from visiting the centre of Belgrade
Hundreds of Bolton Wanderers football fans were detained at a Belgrade hotel ahead of the club's Uefa Cup tie.

Serbian police held the supporters at the Hotel National amid security fears after trouble involving Red Star Belgrade supporters last weekend.

The club said the fans who were on an official trip were held without reasonable explanation.

The supporters were released in time to watch their team beat Red Star 1-0 in a Uefa Cup Group F match.

Strong representations

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We can confirm that the Bolton fans finally did make the match.

"It all passed off in good order and I understand no arrests have been made."

The actions of the Serbian police have been made entirely unilaterally
Bolton Wanderers FC statement

The club said it had expressed its "frustration and disappointment" at the situation.

A statement by Bolton said the club's feelings were shared by Uefa, the FA, the British Embassy, Red Star, and travelling British police.

The club said the supporters had been prevented from visiting Belgrade city centre before the match.

"Strong and intensive" representations had been made to the local police once the incident started, the club added.

No warning

The statement said: "However, all attempts to resolve this situation have been met with the response 'the matter is under consideration' from the Belgrade police.

"The actions of the Serbian police have been made entirely unilaterally and with no prior warning or agreement with Bolton Wanderers FC or other relevant parties.

"Bolton Wanderers FC are fully aware of a crowd order situation that arose last Saturday (when a Serbian police officer was attacked with flares), and we do understand that this may have increased security issues for the local police."

The club said it was seeking clarification of unconfirmed reports that the Serbian police had received specific intelligence that Bolton supporters were at risk of attack in the city centre.

The fans expressed "frustrated resignation" at being cloistered in the hotel, the Foreign Office said.

Five British police officers had accompanied the fans and the Belgrade police commander was "very apologetic about the situation", it added.


Comments from detained supporters, their friends and family members.

My dad and my Granddad have travelled to Belgrade, and my Granddad hasn't been out of hospital for long. My mum got off the phone a little while ago to find out they have been detained at their hotel. My Granddad is apparently distraught and they are saying at the moment there will be no refund!
Alfie Adams, London, England

I was at the hotel and the police said we Bolton fans are not allowed out. So then I said we are going to be late to the game and the police officer was so rude, he swore and said just stay in. Also the opposition fans were trying to attack us. I think this is a major issue in European areas, especially on away games.
David Sales, Bolton uk

My son is there and he phoned me and told me that the Red star fans started to charge at them with flares and gun shots were fired by Serbian police officers.
Will Thompson, Salisbury

My Brother and a mate are out in Belgrade. They phoned a couple of hours ago to say they were being held in the hotel by the local police, with no explanation. They also said that the hotel was charging sky high prices for drinks, they think about ten times more than usual. Apparently Phil Gartside (BWFC Chairman) and the chairman of Red Star visited the hotel to see if they could help, but the police refused to let them in. They also said that the British police had been in the hotel and said all was clear in the town centre and there was no reason why the fans should be held...
John Eccleshare, Bolton

I am outraged. Please get my family member his money back! They have been detained at gun point and threatened by the police! I have already written to UEFA and I am not happy!!
John Kerr, Bolton

This happened to the Rangers supporters before they played Red Star in August. It's a disgrace, they treat people like prisoners. I understand that they want to prevent trouble, but maybe they should actually concentrate there efforts on the Red Star hooligans and allow people following their teams abroad to enjoy the experience.
Steven, Glasgow

As a British citizen resident in Belgrade, I sympathize with the plight of the Bolton supporters who were unable to walk freely round the city. However, the Serbian police were in a Catch 22 position, as groups of Red Star supporters are known to stop at nothing to vent their wrath on rival supporters. If a Bolton supporter had been seriously injured or even killed, the police would have been criticized for not protecting them.
Timothy Byford, Belgrade, Serbia



SEE ALSO
Red Star Belgrade v Bolton
05 Dec 07 |  Europe

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