Serbian football giants angered by Russian ban, says director
A director at Serbian football team Red Star Belgrade says the club is angered by UEFA's decision to bar Russian teams from European club competition in the wake of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
The club's general director Zvezdan Terzic said that the measure was an unwelcome merging of politics and sport, and noted measures taken against Red Star Belgrade in the early 1990s amid war in the former Yugoslavia, after previously being required to play their home games in Sofia and Budapest.
"We are outraged," said Terzic, according to Sata24.
"We went through this in 1992. There is anti-Russian hysteria in Europe, politics is unnecessarily interfering in sports.
"We sympathize with the Ukrainian people and the terrible civilian casualties, but the Russian people are close to the Serbs and always will be.
"Russia is a superpower that has always been on the Serbian side," added the director.
Red Star Belgrade, along with other Serbian clubs, were barred from European competition in the 1992, 1993 and 1994 seasons - a decision which came after Red Star won the 1991 UEFA European Cup (now the Champions League), defeating French team Marseille in the final in Italy.
United Nations sanctions hit the club hard, removing Yuglosav football from the international scene - with the previously dominant Red Star team winning just one league championship between 1992 and 2000.
Meanwhile, Red Star (also known as Crvena Zvezda) have stated that they will not pursue an end to their commercial relationship with Russian energy giant Gazprom.
The company has seen sponsorship ties with German club FC Schalke as well as the Champions League severed in protest at the Ukrainian conflict, but Red Star made clear that they will be taking no such steps to end the deal which reportedly brings in around €4 million ($4.37 million) per year.
"There have been no requests [from UEFA] to remove the Gazprom logo from our uniforms, and I hope they will not. That would be crazy," Terzic said.