News 23 May 16

Bosnia Fines Football Clubs for Nationalist Chants

Over the 2015-16 Bosnian football league season, the country’s clubs had to pay a total of more than 140,000 euros in fines, many for their supporters’ use of nationalist chants and slogans.

Justice Report
Fans of FC Zrinjski from Mostar at a match this season. Photo: Mario Ilicic.

The Bosnian Football Federation’s disciplinary commission told BIRN that clubs have been punished during the recently-concluded 2015-16 season with fines totalling around 140,000 euros for offences including nationalist, racist and political chanting by fans.

According to the Football Federation, the club that accumulated the most fines was Sarajevo Football Club, which was ordered to pay 22,000 euros.

Tuzla-based club Sloboda came in second place with total fines of 17,000 euros, followed closely by Zrinjski from Mostar, Zeljeznicar from Sarajevo and Banja Luka-based club Borac.

The data is for all the fines imposed over the season, but the disciplinary commission said that it issued very serious fines for “nationalist, racist or political chants or messages”.

The clubs with the most fines for these violations are Rudar from Prijedor Celik from Zenica and Slavija from Eastern Sarajevo.

Rudar was fined several times over the past 12 months for nationalist chanting by its fans. After two fines totaling around 6,000 euros, the club was ordered to play two games behind closed doors, without fans.

The punishments came after Rudar fans waved flags with political or nationalist messages and chanted the names of war crimes convicts or defendants. They also carried the flags of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska and of Serbia.

The Football Federation’s disciplinary commission said that from the start of the 2015-16 season, the carrying of flags was no longer considered a violation.

“After a lot of problems, we agreed that flags are no longer to be sanctioned,” said a member of the disciplinary commission, Mehmed Spaho.

“Republika Srpska clubs often objected to Federation fans coming with flags with lilies. However, carrying that flag cannot be sanctioned since that was the official flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992. It should not be confused with the Bosnian Army flag, which is different,” Spaho said.

“The same situation applies for flags of Serbia, Croatia or Republika Srpska. They are official flags, so are considered acceptable,” he added.

Spaho said that since the start of the 2015-16 season, there has been zero tolerance for political or nationalist messages.

FC Celik from Zenica was punished twice over the past season for racist chants. Their fans abused Germain Kouadi from the Ivory Coast, who was playing for Travnik, and Harmony Ikande from Nigeria, who was playing for Sarajevo.

The club was fined a total of around 5,000 euros.

Slavija from Eastern Sarajevo was fined 1,750 euros for chants about war crimes during their game with Sarajevo club Zeljeznicar.

However the biggest single fine this year was paid by the Bosnian Football Association, after European governing body UEFA ordered it to pay 18,000 euros because Bosnian fans sang racist and anti-Semitic songs during a national team match against Israel in June 2015 in Zenica.

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