Red Star Belgrade faces Europa crowd ban

BELGRADE – Red Star Belgrade have been ordered to play the home leg of their Europa League last-32 tie with CSKA Moscow behind closed doors on Feb. 13 after their fans displayed support for Bosnian Serb war crimes convict Ratko Mladic, UEFA said yesterday.

Former European Cup winners Red Star were also fined 50,000 euros (£44,381.74) for the “racist/discriminatory behaviour of their supporters” during a 0-0 Group H draw at Belarus side BATE Borisov in November.

Visiting Red Star fans displayed a banner glorifying Mladic, a former Bosnian Serb military leader sentenced to life in prison last year after a U.N. War Crimes Tribunal found him guilty of genocide.

“A thousand life sentences and an honourable Serb would still hail you,” said the banner displayed by Red Star fans, who also chanted Mladic’s name during the match.

The club’s general director Zvezdan Terzic said Red Star, who won Europe’s premier club competition in 1991, would appeal the verdict, adding that they have already sold 28,000 tickets which amounts to a half of their stadium’s capacity.

“As a club we have always done everything in our power to be good organisers, so we are surprised by UEFA’s draconian decision and hopeful that we will not play in an empty stadium,” Terzic told the Belgrade-based Tanjug news agency.

“We are growing as a club and this is bad for Serbian football because we had the highest home attendances in the competition’s group stage.”

Red Star’s city rivals and Serbian champions Partizan were also punished for crowd trouble in the Europa League during their 2-1 home win over Swiss side Young Boys of Bern. They were ordered to pay a 30,000 euro fine for a pitch invasion and setting off fireworks.

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