Monday, February 09, 2004

Soccer Violence Continues

In the past few months every relevant factor in Croatia – police, media, government and sports officials – tried very hard or at least tried very hard to give impression trying hard in their efforts to defuse the tensions created by infamous Dugopolje incident. The bitter rivalry between Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split, however, again expressed itself in the most virulent form, this time on the territory of neighbouring Bosnia-Herzegovina. The tournament in Široki Brijeg, named after Gojko Šušak (Gojko Susak), Tudjman's all-powerful defence minister and town's favourite son, had its final game on Sunday. The game was abandoned after few dodgy decisions and fan violence within and outside stadium.

Local police, in most likelihood, probably underestimated risks of having huge numbers of Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split fans at the same spot in the same time. The violent manifestation of decades-long feud caught Western Herzegovina police by surprise. Something like that could have never happened in Croatia proper, because authorities had too much of a bitter experiences in past decade or so.

There are unconfirmed reports that the incident also involved sporadic gunfire. I hope that those reports are false. And if they are true, I hope that the shooting came from police desperately trying to calm things down. Potential consequences of BBB and Torcida using firearms on each other are too dark to contemplate.


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