PAUL ALCOCK, the referee shoved to the ground by Paolo Di Canio earlier this season, got off lightly compared to Dragan Trifkovic, who took charge of this weekend's Yugoslav First Division match between Red Star Belgrade and their city rivals, Zemun.
The match was abandoned early in the second half after Trifkovic was attacked by Zemun players. The referee had just sent off a Zemun player, Zoran Miljkovic, when he was set upon by the miscreant's team-mates.
Surrounded by Zemun players aiming punches at him, Trifkovic called off the game and ran for cover. Red Star were leading 2-1 at the time and have subsequently been awarded a 3-0 win.
The perpetrators are expected to be punished today by the Yugoslav Football Federation, which is also planning for this month's high-profile European Championship qualifier against 's neighbours and former war- time enemies, Croatia.
The fixture in Belgrade on 27 March will be the first football match between the two national sides since Croatia gained independence from in 1991, although Partizan Belgrade did play Croatia Zagreb in a European Cup tie two years ago.
Away fans will be banned from both Euro 2000 qualifiers. Only a small delegation of officials and media will be travelling with the Croatian team to Belgrade.
"We decided to do everything we could to eliminate all tensions off the pitch," Branko Bulatovic, the Yugoslav Football Federation's general secretary, said.
JOHN TOSHACK was celebrating the first win of his second spell as Real Madrid's coach after Raul's last-minute goal earned a 3-2 success over Real Zaragoza on Sunday - but the Welshman was not so happy yesterday.
The news from the treatment room at the Bernabeu stadium was not good. The Brazilian striker Savio, who had to go off after half an hour of the Zaragoza game, has torn a thigh muscle and will be out of action for three weeks.
Savio will miss next week's second leg of the European Cup quarter-final against Dynamo Kiev. After a 1-1 draw in Madrid last week, Real have to score at least once in Ukraine if they are to progress.
Predrag Mijatovic, who scored the holders' goal against Dynamo last week, is also doubtful for the return with a knee injury. To add to Toshack's worries, the experienced defenders Fernando Hierro and Manuel Sanchis both missed Sunday's game due to niggling injuries.Reuse content