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Pwopah Nawtee

While England were crawling to a bore-draw at Wembley last night, more interesting scenes were taking place in Genoa, where the match between Italy and Serbia was called off after only seven minutes thanks to the Serbian fans, who caused no end of bother for the local plod.

The away fans, many of them ultras with Belgrade teams Partizan and Red Star, rioted and fought with police, burned the flag of Kosovo, threw flares at both the Italian goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano and fans in the home sections, tried to smash down barriers and cut netting stopping the from throwing projectiles and even threatened their own goalkeeper before the match. The disorder got so bad that the Serbia players tried to placate their fans by giving them the ultra-nationalist salute of ‘Greater Serbia’, but to no avail.

The trouble appears to have been the result of a heady brew of anger the poor performances of their team, anger at the former Red Star goalkeeper Stojkovic, who recently signed for Partizan and was attacked by Red Star fans, and resentment at perceived Italian support of the NATO-led bombing of Serbia in the late 1990s. The fans also unfurled a banner that said ‘Kosovo is ours’.

‘The whole of Europe saw the disgrace and shame brought upon Serbia by fans who have kept us under siege in our hotel for two days,’ said the president of Serbia’s governing body, Tomislav Karadzic. ‘We had information these fans would come here with the intention to force the game to be abandoned and we notified the Italian authorities. It's up to the Serbian government now to launch a swift investigation and establish who recruited these young men to come here and riot because this is an act of aggression which goes beyond football.’

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