The Inferno At Yesterday’s Biggest Rivalry GameBy: The Offside | April 9th, 2009
….was not Liverpool v Chelsea. In fact, we might be able to say neither Champions League fixture was yesterday’s biggest match. Given the its widespread touch on the entirety of a major city, we could say yesterday’s biggest game was the Belgrade Derby – one of, along with the Old Firm, the Rome derby and the Istanbul derby, the most heated rivalries in European football.
And it went off just as you’d expect: Partizan won 2-0, essentially clinching the Serbian title with 9 games to go, and Red Star fans played the part of gracious loser by setting the stadium on fire.
And this is what it looked like:
Beta news agency said Red Star fans set stadium seats on fire after the game and clashed with riot police before kickoff, while Serbian television showed footage of a huge blaze in the northern tier of Partizan’s ground.
Fire brigades moved in and although no casulaties have been reported, the incident is likely to draw serious repercussions by the Serbian Football Federation and the authorities.
And all this resulted in a not-so-modest 51 arrests. Nearly everyone is reporting this as a Red Star issue, but given the nature and history of the derby, I think it’s fair to say both squads had some representation behind lock & key in Belgrade last evening.
The game wasn’t too shabby either, with great saves abound and Nikola Vujovic scoring a cracking volley on the second.
Highlights, set to what can only be the most appropriate soundtrack of all-time: Huey Lewis & The News’ “The Power Of Love”.
All about the love. No doubt.
I suppose this is a nice little warmup for the Rome and Istanbul derbies, both of which take place this weekend. I’m no clairvoyant, but something says this won’t be the last reporting of mass arrests we hear of come Monday.