BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) – Serbia has punished two top football clubs for fan violence and the government pledged on Thursday to curb hooliganism in the Balkan country.
Prime Minister Ivica Dacic chaired a meeting of a special committee to combat violence in sports. He said his government is determined to deal with the problem which has plagued Serbian sports for years.
In a statement issued after the meeting, the government committee demanded that hooligans responsible for fan violence be urgently punished and that those with repeated violations be banned from attending games for five years.
The committee also said it will investigate hooligan ties with organized crime.
Serbia's hooligans are notorious at home and abroad. They forced an interruption of the Red Star-Partizan Belgrade match this month when they lit a huge fire in the stands. Scores of fans were injured in clashes with the police.
The Serbia Football Association on Wednesday ordered Partizan to play two matches without fans and fined the club 1 million dinars (8,700 euros). It also fined Red Star half that sum and banned fans for one match.
FA official Slobodan Pajovic threatened stricter punishments if incidents continue.