Serbian fans list litany of US military campaigns in peace display
Fans of Serbian football club Red Star Belgrade issued their own particular message of peace ahead of their European clash with Glasgow Rangers, unveiling banners listing American military incursions on foreign soil spanning more than half a century.
Before kick-off in their Europa League last-16 second leg match in the Serbian capital on Thursday night, home supporters in one section of the Rajko Mitic Stadium produced a display consisting of six rows of text.
Beginning with ‘Korea 1950’ and running to ‘Syria 2011’, the banners listed locations and years coinciding with military action by the US and its allies, with the message at the bottom reading: “All we are saying is give peace a chance.”
Also known as Crvena Zvezda, the Serbian club are sponsored by Russian energy giant Gazprom.
The club’s general director, Zvezdan Terzic, has vowed they will not end the deal despite the Russian company being dropped by the likes of UEFA and German club Schalke 04 in the wake of the military operation in Ukraine.
Terzic also said Red Star were angered by the recent suspensions of Russian clubs from UEFA and FIFA competitions, noting that Serbian sport had suffered similar sanctions during the Yugoslav conflict.
“We went through this in 1992. There is anti-Russian hysteria in Europe, politics is unnecessarily interfering in sports,” said Terzic earlier in March.
“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 power that has always been on the Serbian side.”
Elsewhere, Red Star fans have been heard chanting their support for Russia in the stands in recent weeks.
Thursday’s match against Rangers played out amid a typically febrile atmosphere at the 53,000-capacity stadium nicknamed the ‘Marakana’.
The intensity was cranked up a notch when Red Star took the lead through Mirko Ivanic after just 10 minutes.
That gave them hope of turning the tie around after a 3-0 defeat in Scotland in the first leg, but Rangers restored their three-goal aggregate cushion when Ryan Kent struck nine minutes into the second half.
The hosts won the game with an injury time penalty from Ben Nabouhane, but it was not enough for Red Star as Rangers earned passage into the quarterfinals with a 4-2 aggregate win across the two legs.