Technically Serbia is just over one year old (it was only in the middle of the 2006 Germany World Cup that Serbia & Montenegro was fragmented) but corruption and organized crime are age-old entities there. Serbian society is still unable to solve the high crime rate and corruption and these ugly scars are running into Serbian football too.
UEFA President Michel Platini is truly committed to uplifting the football standards in Eastern Europe but he has to look no further than Serbia to realize that a lot has to be accomplished in the area. At the centre of the ongoing police investigation into alleged corruption and organized crime in Serbian domestic league football is the country’s biggest and most successful club and that just illustrates how deep-rooted the entire problem is.
Red Star Belgrade might have been the European champions as recently as 1991 and might even raise an eyebrow or two of appreciation during their UEFA Cup appearances but they are at the heart of the investigation. Last week during a league match at their Crvena Zvezda Stadium, a section of the Belgrade supporters attacked a policeman in plain clothes who was filming them as a part of the ongoing investigation into fans trouble at football grounds in Serbia. The policeman did fire in the air several times but he was one against too many and was considerably injured.
Several Red Star fans have since been arrested and one has even been charged with manslaughter but the fact is that this is just the silver lining of the cloud. Incidents of crowd violence and even more importantly organized crowd violence at various Serbian football grounds are quite common and often go untapped.
Serbian police even raided Red Star Belgrade’s headquarters on Friday and detained several club officials as the search for bitter truth buried deep within Serbian football intensifies. The police raid is obviously welcomed by all those who want Serbian football to progress and should be the inspiration to launch more such forays and weed out corruption and trouble at football grounds actively supported (or be it allegedly) by club officials in Serbia.