|The football match in Genoa was aborted after Serb fans threw flares on the pitch and at rival Italy supporters [AFP]
Boris Tadic, the Serbian president, has blamed organised crime for rioting that disrupted a gay parade in the capital, Belgrade and forced the cancellation of an Euro 2012 qualifying match in Italy earlier this month.
About 6,000 nationalists and hooligans clashed with police at Serbia’s first gay parade in almost 10 years on October 10, while the football match in Genoa was aborted on Tuesday after Serbian fans threw flares onto the pitch and at rival supporters.
“Events in Belgrade and Genoa are a response of organised crime and violent groups to the establishment of the state of law [in Serbia],” Tadic told Politika, a pro-government newspaper, in an interview published on Sunday.
“Not for a moment should we forget that organised crime uses extreme [football] fan groups to destabilise the state which sends mafia bosses into prison. In this fight, Serbia will prevail.”
Football fans paid
Politika reported on Saturday, quoting sources close to the probe, that two fugitive leaders of criminal gangs were suspected of paying more than $280,000 to football fans behind the rioting in Genoa.
Serbia has promised a thorough police investigation int othe violence in Genoa, which left 16 people hospitalised and led to the arrests of 17 people in Italy. Serbian police detained another 35 football fans on their way back from Genoa.
“Organised crime has been connected with violent fan groups and extreme political organisations,” Tadic said.
The escalation of violence was a response to Serbia’s overhaul of the judicial process, launched earlier this year, he said.
Serbia has stepped up the fight against organised crime in a bid to meet conditions for membership of the European Union.