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Page last updated at 11:48 GMT, Wednesday, 13 October 2010 12:48 UK

Uefa begins investigation into Serbia fan violence


Uefa probes Serbia fan violence

Uefa has launched an investigation into the violent scenes involving Serbia fans which caused their Euro 2012 qualifier in Italy to be abandoned.

Pre-match clashes in Genoa had already delayed the kick-off before the match was called off after only six minutes.

The referee and match delegate's report will be consulted during the process.

Possible sanctions from Uefa include a reprimand or fine, stadium closure or even disqualification from current and/or future competitions.

The events in Genoa will be discussed at a Uefa meeting on 28 October, with the Italian football federation also facing possible punishment.

The ultra fans seemed organised. It appeared as though they would have done everything possible to make sure the game was not played

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli

"Aside from the responsibility of those that provoked the incidents, Uefa rules also consider the responsibility of the federation that organises the game," UEFA Spokesman Rob Faulkner told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"They have the duty to guarantee safety in the stadium as well as making sure the game goes ahead."

Serbian Football Association chief Tomislav Karadzic said there had been "indications" there would be violence, which he said "brought embarrassment and shame on our country."

Karadzic told Belgrade's B92 television that the crowd trouble had been planned back home, with the travelling fans being "just the executors."

He added: "We had problems during training, before the match, and now this. The state must react."

Serbia's ambassador to Italy, Sanda Raskovic-Ivic, said she was appalled by what took place, and apologised on behalf of the country.

"What happened in Genoa was a disgrace, a nightmare," she said.

"I and all of the Serbians are ashamed. I take this opportunity to send the apologies from the embassy, our government and our population to the Italian people for what has happened."

Italian police have confirmed 17 arrests were made, 16 of them Serbian.

A mask-wearing Serbian fan sets off a flare in the stadium
Widespread trouble caused by Serbian supporters delayed kick-off

Italy, who endured a disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa, went into the game with seven points from their opening three qualifiers whereas the Serbs were three points adrift after their shock home defeat by Estonia last Friday.

The kick-off at the Luigi Ferraris stadium was delayed after Serbian fans threw flares in the direction of the north stand, where Italian supporters were seated, and on to the pitch.

And only six minutes of play was possible before Scottish referee Craig Thomson called a halt to proceedings because of more flares being set off and fireworks being thrown on to the pitch, one of which landed near Italy goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano.

Following discussions between delegations from both countries and Uefa officials representatives, the Serbs went back to the dressing room.

Although no official announcement had been made at that point about the match being abandoned, the Italians then also left the pitch, applauding their fans as they did so, as the majority of supporters left the stadium.

"It was impossible to play in that goal. I would have had to constantly turn around to avoid the fireworks. It wouldn't have been nice to get hit in the head," added Viviano.

Italian Football Federation security chief Roberto Massucci blamed Serbian authorities for allowing the troublemakers to travel in the first place.

"Fans that are so dangerous should not have arrived in Genoa. They should have been stopped by the Serbian officials," Massucci said.

"We were aware that this game had a risk factor but a behaviour of such aggressiveness we had not experienced for some time.

"From the traditional channels of communication with the Serbian police, we had not been given any signs of the degree of danger of these fans."

Italy keeper Emiliano Vivian
Italy keeper Viviano takes evasive action as flares land on the pitch

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said he was "sad and bitter" about the way the evening had turned out.

"I've never experienced anything like this," Prandelli stated.

"The [Serbia] players have been assaulted by their own fans in their bus.

"Their goalkeeper [Vladimir Stojkovic] was in our changing room, he was trembling and had fear - not only about tonight but also in view of returning home.

"The ultra fans seemed organised. It appeared as though they would have done everything possible to make sure the game was not played. According to the Serbian players, that was their aim."

Sporting Lisbon keeper Stojkovic, who spent a period on loan at Wigan during the 2009-10 season, began his career playing for Red Star Belgrade and is now back in the city on loan at their bitter rivals Partizan.

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