Hooliganism Rear It's Ugly Head In Genoa

Italy's Euro 2012 qualifier against Serbia in Genoa was abandoned after just six minutes when away fans threw flares onto the pitch and at Italian fans. The kick off had been delayed for 35 minutes due to crowd trouble and only six minutes had been played when two flares were thrown onto the pitch and the match was suspended. One flare was aimed towards Italy goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano and Serbian fans then threw another flare into the Italian end, hitting some supporters.

Scottish referee Craig Thomson took the players off the pitch and the game was eventually abandoned. The Group C match kicked off 35 minutes late after Serbian fans burned flares and a few climbed to the top of a fence enclosing them, ripping a hole in netting designed to prevent objects being thrown onto the field or at Italian supporters. Earlier, Serbian media said the away team goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic had pulled out of the match on the way to the stadium after he was abused by his own fans in what the reports said was connected to domestic club rivalry.

The players came out onto the pitch for the kick-off at 20:50 local time but quickly returned to the dressing rooms after police and stewards tried to calm the Serbia fans in one corner as Italian supporters chanted obscenities at them. Firefighters used a hose on an area of Italian seats where flares had landed. Serbia players returned to the pitch after half an hour and tried to calm their fans but captain and Inter Milan midfielder Dejan Stankovic was visibily annoyed and knocked away a microphone as a reporter tried to talk to him.

The game finally kicked off after Italian fans had booed the Serbian anthem and the referee presided over an extremely short "minute" of applause for four Italian soldiers recently killed in Afghanistan. Serbian media reported that Stojkovic had withdrawn from the game after receiving abuse from his own fans while approaching the Genoa stadium for the match. Zeljko Brkic was named on the official team sheet instead of Stojkovic.

Serbia lost 3-1 at home to Estonia on Friday but local media said the abuse was more connected to Stojkovic now turning out for Partizan Belgrade having once played for hated rivals Red Star Belgrade. Minor trouble was reported before kick off between traditionally combustible Serbian fans and Italian police outside the stadium.

Source: Reuters

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