Serbian FA issues anti-hooliganism appeal

April 16, 2008

BELGRADE, April 16 (Reuters) - The Serbian Football Association (FSS) begged fans not to fight ahead of Wednesday's Cup semi-finals after a man was killed in soccer-related violence earlier this week.

'We hereby implore all fans to show respect for each other and the teams involved in the two FA Cup semi-finals and to always do so in the future,' the FSS said.

'The tragic death of a fan in a pre-arranged fight shows that a tidal wave of hooliganism has swept Serbia's football and we need to put and end to this evil swiftly,' it said on its Web site (fss.org.yu).

A 27-year-old man was shot dead by a firearm and a 17-year-old boy seriously wounded on Monday when rivals fans clashed at Futog train station near the northern city of Novi Sad.

The clash appeared to have been agreed in advance by Vojvodina Novi Sad and Partizan Belgrade fans who fought in Novi Sad two days earlier ahead of an incident-free league match.

Four people were injured and 30 arrested after running battles in the city centre and one was treated for stab wounds.

Wednesday's semi-final between Cup holders Red Star Belgrade and bitter city foes Partizan is expected to be played amid tight security as the fixture has a history of crowd trouble.

The FSS said fans needed to adopt a 'code of conduct' to help win 'a crucial battle against hooliganism.'

'We need real football fans to set an example and distance themselves from the hooligans whose mindless rage is a threat to sport and society in general,' it said.

'These people are not committed to the well-being of sport or basic human values and we can only feel complete contempt for such individuals.'