Soccer-Troubled Belgarde derby to go ahead under tight security
BELGRADE Oct 21 (Reuters) - Belgrade's soccer derby between Red Star and Partizan will go ahead on Saturday after Serbia's soccer authorities, club representatives and police agreed on a tight security plan including up to 10,000 riot police.
"We are aware of the risks which are greater than ever after recent events," the Serbian Football Association (FSS) said on Thursday in a joint statement signed by Red Star, Partizan and the first division union.
"We have been assured by the authorities they will do everything in their legal powers to prevent violence and law breaking."
Red Star, who are at home to champions and bitter foes Partizan, have reduced their spectator capacity of 55,000 by 20,000 to make room for riot police and removed seats from the south tier, occupied by Partizan's die-hard fans.
Up to 10,000 riot police will be deployed in and around the stadium as well in the city's main arteries leading to Serbia's biggest soccer ground.
The fixture, which has a history of crowd trouble, will be a test for Serbia to crush hooliganism after two serious incidents earlier this month.
Violent Serbia fans forced the team's Euro 2012 qualifier at Italy to be abandoned in Genoa on Oct. 12, two days after angry protesters, including soccer hooligans, clashed with police during a gay parade in Belgrade.
In Genoa, Serbia and former Red Star goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic was attacked before the kickoff by the club's ultras, who have targeted him since he joined Partizan on loan from Sporting Lisbon in August.
"Special emphasis will be laid to protect at all times the players and officials taking part in the derby because only an incident-free match is in the best interest of Serbian soccer," the FSS said.
"The ugly scenes in Genoa should never happen again and we must all make every effort to make sure that they don't, because those who care about football in Serbia are a majority and together we can defeat violence."
Red Star lead the 16-team first division with 22 points from eight matches, three more than second-placed Partizan who have won a record three league titles in a row.
(Editing by John Mehaffey; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)
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