News 27 Nov 17

Serbian Football Fans Show Support for Ratko Mladic

Hundreds of fans of Red Star Belgrade chanted support for recently-convicted Bosnian Serb Army commander Ratko Mladic, while players at a small provincial Serbian club wore shirts featuring his picture.

Filip Rudic
Players of the smaller club, Kabel, entering the pitch with Mladic's image on their shirts. Photo: NSU Facebook page

Several hundred Red Star Belgrade fans sang Ratko Mladic’s name and praised him as a hero during the club’s match on Sunday, while a smaller, provincial club called FK Kabel went further by donning shirts emblazoned with the convicted war criminal’s image.

A video published on YouTube by Red Star’s Delije supporters’ group shows fans singing to Mladic and chanting his name.

At the Red Star stadium, the fans hung Serbian insignia, an image of Kosovo, and a banner with the face of Serbian nationalist Draza Mihailovic, leader of the Nazi-collaborating Chetnik World War II-era movement.

The display came three days after a Red Star supporters’ group published a letter of support sent by Mladic to the fans in 2016, calling on them to not use pyrotechnics and renounce violence.

“Love yourselves and your athletic rivals! May our matches and contests be accompanied by song and joy,” Mladic said in a letter last year, which the Red Star fan group tweeted on November 24, two days after his verdict was handed down in The Hague.

Fans of Serbia’s second largest club, Partizan Belgrade, expressed support for Mladic at an international match, but without mentioning his name, in order to avoid being fined by UEFA.

They hung a banner with the words “We thank your mother” and an image of Natalia’s Ramonda, the flower that Mladic wore as an enamel badge on his lapel during his sentencing in The Hague.

Players at a smaller Serbian football club, FK Kabel, from the northern city of Novi Sad, who play in the provincial Vojvodina league, meanwhile donned shirts featuring pictures of Mladic during their Sunday match, regional television channel N1 reported.

Some criticised the club’s actions: “The Hague [Tribunal] said that the verdict is not given to the entire Serbian people, but we really want to prove that it is,” said one comment on the N1 site.

Others showed support for the players, however: “I would personally… put on a picture of the hero Ratko Mladic,” another comment said.

Praise for the former Bosnian Serb military chief also came from the fans of Russian club Zenit Saint Petersburg, who hung a banner with the slogan “Ratko Mladic – Serbian Hero” during their match with FK Vardar of Macedonia on Friday.

Фанаты Зенита поддержали Ратко Младича, которого Гаагский трибунал на днях приговорил к пожизненному сроку

— Russian ultras (@russian_ultras) November 24, 2017

“Fans of Zenit supported Ratko Mladic, who the Hague Tribunal recently sentenced to life imprisonment,” said a message from a Twitter account called Russian Ultras.

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