Serbian Hooligan Gets 10 Year SentenceBy: The Offside | September 22nd, 2008
For the fans of Red Star Belgrade, being considered a violent hooligan is a badge of honor. The ultras are more organized than the footballing directors of some clubs, and the games can and often do take a back seat to the extracurricular activities in and around the stadiums. So when a Red Star fan, perhaps an ultra, viciously attacked a plain clothes police officer at a game in December, it came as no surprise. What has come as a surprise, however, is that the Serbian government is cracking down, sentencing the young fan, 20 year old Uros Misic, to 10 years in prison, found guilty of attempted murder.
What actually transpired in December goes far beyond football violence and, as judge Velimir Lazovic said, locks hands with barbarism:
He inflicted multiple burns on Nebojsa Trajkovic and then tried to force it into his throat, after which the policeman fired gunshots into the air in self-defence.
“It was a barbaric, brutal and monstrous attack on a policeman on duty and the authorities have the right to defend themselves when attacked,” judge Velimir Lazovic said after the judicial council passed the verdict.
“The assault was also completely unprovoked and it had to be qualified as attempted murder because Trajkovic was fighting for his life out there,” he said.
Pictures of the event have been plentiful.
Long has hooliganism and violence been linked with Serbian football, having understandably been exacerbated by the fall of Yugoslavia and ethnic discord between various clubs at those times. Red Star are among the worst, with the leaders of the Delije, one of the most notorious ultra factions in the world, leaving no room for ambiguity regarding their intent. From a fantastic Observer article written in 2004:
‘English fans don’t have offices because all they do is fight,’ says Marco, one of the young leaders, who refuses to concede that he is a hooligan. ‘We organise the best choreography in the world. We’re not just hooligans; we are ready for anything. For example, we showed those English homosexuals from Leicester how to fight a few years ago. We met them in the Uefa Cup and ran them in Leicester and again when we met up with them later in the year in Germany. We think that in England you don’t realise how tough the Serbs are. We respect the English as the founders of hooliganism, but where are you now? Other nations have overtaken you.’
But it doesn’t stop with the fans, it extends to the players and anyone who, in their minds, shames the image of the club:
Padja, another young Delije leader, explains how he is responsible for smashing up the Red Star players’ cars whenever they perform badly. He carries a handgun under his jacket and boasts of how he recently destroyed the car of Red Star’s captain, Nemanja Vidic, after he appeared in a fashion shoot with the captain of Partizan.
(Nemanja Vidic now having obviously gone on to bigger and better things.)
What gives hope is that this ruling won’t become the exception to the rule, but the standard for any hooliganism related incidence in the future of Serbian football. Ten years is no insubstantial term and though it may not halt the violence altogether (also considering the term may have been different were it not a police officer), those plotting and planning the next barbaric outburst in their offices will surely think twice about the repercussions. One step it may be, but a leap in the context.