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A riot of Red Star fans in Belgrade during the celebration of the Serbian title

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Image source: AP

A boat with players tours the Sava River as Red Star fans celebrate after their team wins the Serbian Football League title in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, May 22nd.

Several people were injured and more than 100 Red Star fans in Belgrade were arrested after fierce clashes during the club’s violent celebrations for the club’s Serbian national league title.

Fans first lit fireworks from the bridges and banks of the Sava River in downtown Belgrade on Saturday night, and then stormed a neighborhood in Belgrade, home to several popular restaurants.

Customers fled in panic or locked themselves in bars as fans knocked down chairs and tables, smashed windows and clashed with security guards at the restaurant, who Red Star fans say are supporters of rival Belgrade club Partizan.

Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin told national television RTS that about 130 mostly Red Star fans had been arrested and that several people had been injured in the riots.

“This will no longer be tolerated,” Vulin said.

“This scum that has embarrassed our city, the Red Star and its celebration deserves to be severely punished.”

The celebration by thousands of Red Star fans was announced in advance and tolerated by the authorities despite the ban on large gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Serbia has a history of tolerating hooliganism, which often leads to violence and outbursts of nationalism.

With the return of nationalists to power in Serbia nine years ago, far-right football supporters have often been seen at pro-government rallies acting as security, while promoting a nationalist political agenda. In return, analysts say, hooligans are allowed to engage in illegal business activities.

Several members of the radical Partizan fan group have been arrested since February and charged with murder, kidnapping and drug trafficking, which officials say is a major crackdown on crime.

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