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news 08 Nov 13

Serbia Mulls New Drive Against Hooligan Fans

Serbian officials say the country needs to toughen the law on sporting violence following more fan misbehaviour at a Belgrade football match last weekend.

Belgrade

Milivoj Mirkov, the cabinet member in charge of security, said that Serbia had to change the law to crack down on sports-related violence.

"We need to define what a fan group is, what its structure, rights and responsibilities are, its relationship with the club, and the way it is financed," he said.

"This way, we would separate loyal fans from hooligans," Mirkov added, on Thursday.

The call comes after fan misbehaviour marred the weekend match between rival Belgrade football teams Red Star and Partizan. Partizan fans lit a massive bonfire in their section of the stands.

Red Star won the match 1-0 to move within one point of current leaders Partizan.

Under the existing law on prevention of violence in sport, from 2003, the match organizer is responsible for any violence that may occur at the event.

But Mirkov said match organisers were not capable of combating hooliganism on their own, and it was time for the state to step in.

Following repeated outbursts of sporting violence in the past few years, the authorities have pledged to introduce special courts and prosecutors to help deal with hooligans, as well as special police forces, but nothing has happened as yet.

UEFA has fined Serbia's football association on several occasions for violence and racist behaviour on the part of football fans.

Nenad Borovcanin, a former professional boxer and state secretary for sport, on Monday said the government should follow in Britain's footsteps in tackling football hooliganism.

British football matches were once notorious for racism and violence - but no longer.

"The response of the state must be strong like the one Britain made when they... introduced severe punishments for all offenders," Borovcanin said.

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