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The fixture is widely regarded as the most fiery and dangerous derby in world football but despite the game almost being a title decider, the sting was taken out of the occasion by Red Star ultras refusing to turn up at Partizan’s stadium.
Religious convictions had told them the game should not be played on Easter Saturday so they boycotted.
So there was no violence whatsoever, but that didn’t stop a huge number of riot police being there.
Italian police and stewards knew Tuesday’s Euro qualifier with Serbia could be a tense affair given the two countries’ problems with hooliganism and the high-profile nature of the match.
Why then were so many Serbian fans able to smuggle in flares and cause an abandonment?
The English hooligan problem was at its worst outside Britain, when fans went to international matches abroad. Violence in Argentine football, by contrast, has reached a point in recent years where it is rarely even a confrontation between the hardcore fans of rival teams.
Now, factions who support the same team fight each other. At stake is control over a number of money-spinning ventures linked to their clubs.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter, World Cup organiser Danny Jordaan and just about everyone else involved in the 2010 finals have been playing down the risk of violence and crime in South Africa and in hundreds of reports over the last five years I have always been prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt.
That was until last night when I was effectively “mugged” by two uniformed police officers who demanded “pounds or dollars” before they would let me go on my way. In the end I handed over 200 rand (about 15 pounds) — and they showed their “gratitude” in the most astonishing way.
England fans were criticised by coach Fabio Capello and stand-in captain Rio Ferdinand for booing Ashley Cole after his mistake led to a goal in the 5-1 win over Kazakhstan.
A Serbian soccer fan, tried for attempted murder after assaulting a plain-clothes police officer with a burning flare during a first division game last December, has been sentenced to 10 years in jail.
The verdict has triggered a nationwide debate among the country’s soccer fans over whether Uros Misic, a 20-year old Red Star Belgrade supporter, has been punished too severely or got exactly what he deserved.
UEFA officials say they don’t expect any trouble, and certainly no retaliatory attacks on Manchester United or Chelsea fans but last week’s rioting on the streets of Manchester and stabbing of a Russian fan raises wider questions about who is to blame, and whether violence can ever be completely kicked out of soccer.