Serbia looks to Britain for inspiration in taming hooligans

The Serbian government has been advised to emulate Britain’s example if it wants to prevent football hooliganism,┬áthe country’s senior sports official Nenad Borovcanin said.

The call came after yet another Belgrade derby was marred by fan violence with trouble┬ábreaking out before and during Saturday’s clash between Red Star and arch rivals Partizan.

“The response of the state must be strong like the one Britain made when they removed the fences and replaced them with severe punishment for all offenders,” the 34-year old secretary of sport told state television RTS on Monday.

“If the authorities are consistent and willing to deal with this problem there is no chance that what we saw on Saturday will happen again, but the government must show that it’s stronger than hooligans,” he said.

Dozens of fans were arrested in the Serbian capital as rival supporters clashed on the outskirts of Belgrade before kick-off, while play was held up for 10 minutes in the second half after Partizan fans lit several bonfires in their section.

Seats in the south tier had been removed before the game for safety reasons but that did not stop Partizan fans from starting the fires.

“Club and government officials involved in sports must show a true commitment in dealing with the issue and their action must be strong and decisive in order to deter the leaders of die-hard fan sections from carrying on with the incidents,” added Borovcanin.

“Slaps on the wrist won’t do because that only encourages the ringleaders, who must be isolated from true fans.”