BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Police in Serbia have arrested 26 people after a massive fan brawl during a soccer match between Belgrade rivals Red Star and Partizan left at least 20 people injured.
Police say foreign nationals are among those who were detained after Wednesday’s match, which ended 1-1. They did not specify the nationalities.
The brawl erupted between two rival Partizan fan groups. Several people suffered head injuries and burns from torches. Some fans were stripped naked before being kicked out of the stands as riot police intervened with batons.
Clashes between Partizan and Red Star fans have been common for one of the world’s most intense soccer rivalries.
With the draw, Red Star is leading Partizan by nine points halfway through the championship.
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Partizan was charged by UEFA with various offenses including racist behavior, firework use, and pitch invasions following two Champions League qualifying games against Montenegro’s Buducnost and Greek team Olympiakos.
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The rivalry in the Serbian capital between Red Star Belgrade and Partizan Belgrade has often resulted in clashes between fans that require riot police and other means of crowd control.
Saturday, that turned ugly.
According to the Associated Press, over 50 people were injured and 40 arrested as the two sides clashed before the match at Red Star Stadium in Belgrade. The riots caused a 40-minute delay to the match, and sent a number of fans to the hospital. This rivalry, often known as the Eternal Derby, has often caused unrest and violence among fans.
The report states fans flung stones towards each other and fought with sticks as riot police attempted to break up the clashes. Fans responded by throwing chairs and flares at the riot police, as crowds could be seen lighting flares of Partizan yellow and Red Star red. Smoke grenades were also tossed onto the field. The game finally got under way, but was halted in the second half again to let smoke clear.
The match ended in a 0-0 draw, maintaining Partizan’s five-point lead at the top of the table over the defending champions Red Star. The winner of the Serbian league earns a bid into Champions League second qualifying round, while the second and third place finishers find themselves among the Europa League.