David Vujanic’s reaction to the weekend
This weekend comments below host, and Serbian David Vujanic went back home to check out the Belgrade Derby. We talked to him before leaving for the game but no one could have expected the events that played out in the encounter. Rioting before the match led to 40 arrests and 35 injured police officers, as the game started 45 minutes late. On the field the game ended 0-0 but the passion that boiled over in Red Star’s Maracana is something Vuj won’t soon forget.
Where were you located during the match?
“We were pitch side, along the running, and we could hear the fans screaming on our right. Suddenly 3 or 4 Partizan fans started running towards the Red Star fans and the whole stadium cheered as someone got knocked out. The whole stadium turned their attention to this brawl in which you didn’t know where to look, it all happened so fast.
After a while the fighting got directed at the police and that was really heavy handed. It was a surreal moment to witness a game like that. I didn’t even realize the players were coming onto the pitch.”
Why did things kick off the way they did?
“There was a recent split between Partizan’s fan groups, so now one stay in the traditional south stand, and another group has moved into the east stand, which is usually neutral fans. The police did not take enough preventive measures to split them up. This allowed a few partisan fans to try and reach the Red Star fans in the North-end. And if you are allowed access to your biggest rivals, of course you are going to try and reach them”.
Were you expecting it?
“Not, at all before leaving. There is always a bit of aggression, a few fights outside, but a full on war at that level of escalation was unexpected. Last time something like this happened was in the early 2000s when Red Star’s Delije and Partizan’s Grobari faught it out on the pitch. On twitter I heard a few tweets saying it might kick off a bit. There was a political protest in town as well so there was just a tension around the city.”
How did it feel to see it?
“I felt a lot of adrenalin. It hits your primitive human side at first. Personally I was quite excited about it all. I was in awe that this could actually happen. Seeing a full on battle with police is mental. I never felt fear. Slowly you start to process it and consider if the game will get called off, or who is hurt. For those first 10 minutes you are just trying to take it all in.”