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UEFA awards a 3-0 win to Italy due to Serbian fan violence

UEFA has punished the Italian and Serbian soccer associations after Serbian fan violence forced the abandonment of a European Championship qualifier earlier this month. UEFA declared Italy the winner by a score of 3-0.

Fireworks on Italian football pitch

The Group C European Championship qualifier was stopped after six minutes

UEFA awarded Italy a 3-0 win by default and ordered Serbia to play at least one home qualifier behind closed doors after rioting fans forced their European Championship qualifier in Genoa on Oct. 12 to be abandoned.

The Group C game was stopped after just six minutes after Serbian fans threw fireworks onto the pitch.

UEFA's decision was more lenient than many had expected.

"Compared to what had been speculated, it is not a bad decision," Serbia's coach Vladimir Petrovic told Belgrade's B92 telelvision.

Serbia's one-match crowd ban comes with the threat that a second soccer game would be played to an empty stadium if there is more crowd trouble at any of its games over the next two years.

UEFA'S Control and Disciplinary Body has ordered Serbia's soccer association to refrain from ordering tickets for Serbian supporters for all of the away matches of the Serbian team during the remainder of EURO 2012 qualifying.

A Serbian hooligan

Serbian hooligans may have had political motives

Italy punished too

The Italian soccer association was fined 100,000 euros ($139,000) and the Serbian association 120,000 euros.

Italy was also hit with a suspended sentence of one game behind closed doors because the Italian security operation failed on Oct. 12 to stop Serbian fans from entering the stadium in Genoa with an arsenal of fireworks and flares.

"If we had intervened, we would have risked a catastrophe," Italian soccer association director-general Antonello Valentini told reporters in Nyon when asked why riot police had not entered the away end.

The match in Genoa was abandoned after six minutes when masked Serbian fans threw flares onto the pitch and at Italian supporters having climbed up a perimeter fence and cut a hole in netting meant to prevent objects being thrown.

The kick-off had already been delayed by 35 minutes due to crowd trouble, which followed Serbia's goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic pulling out of the game because of threats from his own fans over a domestic club dispute.

Away fans, who had made political gestures in the ground and tried to smash a barrier to get into the home end, also clashed with police after the abandonment and there were 17 arrests.

Italian police and Serbian fans

Italian police were criticized for not preventing the violence

Nationalist Violence

Shortly after the abandoned match, Serbian officials expressed fear of a right-wing extremist plot against their country's entry to the European Union.

"Obviously somebody wants to demonstrate that Serbia is neither ready, nor mature enough to enter Europe," the state secretary for justice, Slobodan Homen, said in a interview with B92.

Both associations have three days to appeal UEFA's decision.

Serbian officials have accepted most of the sanctions, but plan to appeal the decision to award Italy a 3-0 victory.

"We are not happy with that part of the UEFA verdict and we will appeal for a replay of the match because we think the only fair decision is to have a winner determined on the playing field," the president of the Serbian soccer association, Tomislav Karadzic, told the Reuters news agency.

If the 3-0 win stands after an appeal, Italy would lead Group C with 10 points from four games. Serbia would be in fifth place in the six-nation group with four points. Their next game, a home match against Northern Ireland on Mar. 25, 2011, will be played behind closed doors.

Author: Natalia Dannenberg (Reuters/AP/dpa)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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