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        • By adopting the National Strategy for Combating Violence and Misconduct at Sports Events in 2013, the Government of the Republic of Serbia missed the opportunity to solve three major problems of the Serbian "stands". No action was planned with the exclusive purpose of banning, breaking or dissolving fan groups that have a history of "severe" violent activities. There was no sincere intention to question the criminal responsibility of hooligans associated with crime by the media. The racist and nationalist narrative at sports events was not directly condemned and occasionally it received the support. This is the reason why football clubs with most trophies in Serbia and the national football team from 2013 to 2018 paid fines of 714,250 euros to the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).

           

          Eight people lost their lives in 182 violent incidents involving extreme fan groups during of implementation of the 2013-2018 National Strategy to Combat Violence and Misconduct at Sports Events. Members of the hooligan groups are mostly men between 15 and 44 years of age. Three-quarters of the incidents were observed at football stadiums and sports centres, and just over one-fifth in public areas. The smallest number of incidents occurred in cafes and restaurants, only five, out of which three happened in Belgrade clubs. Actually, the Belgrade “stands” are different. Majority of violent incidents, almost one quarter, took place in the capital. More than 70% of incidents occurred outside the sports facilities. In Belgrade alone, 13 out of 15 cases of firearms usage were reported. For as many as 60% of violent incidents in the capital, it was not possible to verify links to sports.

           

          It is impossible to determine precisely whether the number of violent incidents from 2013 to 2018 has been reduced or increased, compared to the previous period. There are noticeably fewer incidents at the international matches. The Ministry of Interior currently maintains comprehensive record of violent incidents and injuries which occurred before, during and after sport events, but did not provide these data upon the request for access to information of public importance. There is general impression that in recent years there has been a smaller number of violent incidents involving sports, due to the agreement of political actors and hooligan groups, which was probably achieved in 2014. since the pride parade, which highlights the human rights of the LGBT population, were organised with a minimal number of incidents. At the same time and especially after 2016, another trend is noticeable - the media are increasingly writing about the clashes in which hooligan group leaders are injured.

           

          Persons convicted of violent behaviour at sports event or public gathering are often recidivists, previously convicted of causing grievous and light bodily harm, killing and abusing animals, illicit manufacturing, possession, carrying and trafficking of weapons, thefts. Courts impose a sentence of imprisonment in most cases, but most convicts did not serve the sentence because probation sentence was pronounced. In almost half of the cases, the court fines were 10,000 dinars, which is the second lowest sentence in terms of value. Prosecutors on average rejected 37% of criminal charges, most often filed by police, for violent behaviour at sports event or public gathering. The intention of the prosecutor in just over half of the cases is to resolve criminal charge by pleading guilty agreement. In 25% of cases, a senior public prosecutor has filed an indictment, and an order to conduct an investigation in only 4% of cases of violent behaviour at sports event or public gathering.

           

          The 2013 National Strategy for Combating Violence and Misconduct at Sports Events is a "blank letter". No system has been put in place to monitor, evaluate and report on the implementation of the National Strategy, and the topic did not make the agenda of the sessions of the National Council for Combating Violence and Misconduct and the National Council for the Prevention of Negative Events in Sports. It was mentioned once in terms of the need to evaluate the impact of this document. However, this does not mean that no work has been done to prevent violence in sports. The Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, the Ministry of Interior, sports federations and clubs conducted preventive activities from 2013 to 2018 but they were not the result of cross-sectoral work and coordination promoted by the National Strategy or the focus in these activities was often some other form of bullying and not violence at sports events.

           

          Publication of the report was supported by the OSCE Mission to Serbia. The views and interpretations expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect official position of the OSCE.

        • Tags: sport, hooligans, Sasa Djordjevic
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