Serbia face Uefa ban after night of violence in Genoa

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The Independent Online

Serbia face a ban from international football after their supporters rioted and caused Tuesday night's Euro 2012 qualifier with Italy in Genoa to be abandoned after six minutes.

Italian police arrested 17 people, including the ring leader who was found hiding in the boot of a bus, following the violence that left 16 people, including two policemen, injured.

Uefa yesterday announced it had opened a "full and thorough disciplinary investigation into the incidents of serious disorder" at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.

Uefa's Control and Disciplinary Body will decide on punishment on 28 October, and has several sanctions available, ranging from a large fine to disqualification from competitions in progress and/or exclusion from future competitions. Group C leaders Italy are also likely to be awarded a 3-0 walkover victory.

Reports from Serbia yesterday said the riot was an orchestrated demonstration of political violence designed to destabilise the pro-Western government and alienate the country from the rest of Europe.

The drug baron Darko Saric, who is on the run, was allegedly behind the ugly scenes that included thugs fighting with riot police and throwing flares on to the pitch, one of which nearly hit the Italy goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano.

Serbian fans also attacked their own team bus and hurled abuse at goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic who has been receiving death threats since he joined Partizan Belgrade in the summer, after a spell on loan at Wigan Athletic, having previously played for bitter rivals Red Star Belgrade.

The Italy manager, Cesare Prandelli, said: "The Serbia players have been assaulted by their own fans in their bus. Their goalkeeper [Stojkovic] was in our changing room, he was trembling and had fear – not only about the game but also in view of returning home." Yesterday, Serbia's ambassador to Italy, Sanda Raskovic-Ivic, apologised on behalf of the country.

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