FOOTBALL RIOTS

MAY 13 2009 17:09h

VIDEO: Day When Maksimir Stadium Went up in Flames

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The political situation in Yugoslavia was being outlined on May 13, 1990 more than ever before and Zvonimir Boban made history then.

Fans’ riots are faced with condemnation of the whole public, media, sports and political institutions because they are disrupting the idyll, security and sports atmosphere. But one football incident in this region has a different dimension and one will find it very difficult to find any person who would condemn it. 

The reasons are, of course, political. A football match between Zagreb’s Dinamo club and Belgrade’s Crvena Zvezda which should have taken place on May 13, 1990, but never was, displayed the political situation of Yugoslavia falling apart, that is, the problems that reached the tension that escalated in a war.

VIDEO: Horrifying scenes of riots in Maksimir

Among those attacked was Faber’s cousin, Domagoj Majic, whom the militia brutally beat up with sticks and kicked around. As a result, the young man sustained severe injuries and is today an invalid. Faber was rewarded for courage, for managing to prevent a greater conflict in difficult conditions.

The fans of Crvena Zvezda, called Delije, loved playing away matches in Zagreb because they would arrive under special protection, which practically made it possible for them to do whatever they wanted. But in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the situation changed, the political revolt in Croatia was never more pronounced, politics created new history, people were feeling that something was about to happen. And as is usual, this feeling first transferred to sports.

From early morning on the fatal May 13, the Delije, led by Zeljko Raznatovic – Arkan, smashed the city and the then militia followed them and tolerated their every action. They abused citizens, fought with fans of Dinamo, but also Hajduk and Rijeka, across Zagreb. Many witnesses to these events claim that everything had been orchestrated by the country’s leadership because they thought that if riots of higher intensity are tolerated and the militia calms everything by force, the people would calm down. But they pushed it too far this time.

The militia concessions to the Delije went too far. The Crvena Zvezda fans tore down ads, tore out seats, beat the fewer number of Dinamo fans, while the militia, headed by head of security Milos Dupalo, just stood by watching, although Zvonimir Boban, Josip Kuze and many other Dinamo players and officials of the field begged the militia to do something.

But Zdenko Lugonjic, who was responsible for the south-east part of the stands, decided to calmly watch, which was a clear sign that politics had dug its claws deep because never before so many guest fans were let on the stands without any security, especially during matches of high risk such as this one was.

Vladimir Faber got rewarded for beating up Croats 

Provoked by the conduct of Zvezda’s fans, a group of fans (it is believed from Rijeka) from the east stands ran onto the field and began tearing down Crvena Zvezda posters. And then a young man who wanted to prove himself – Vladimir Faber, the current Croatian police director, came on to the scene. He never clearly explained his rather questionable acts on that day.

Even though he did not get orders from his superiors, he gave the militia under him free reign, to do

When I got up, my colleagues who were near me were convincing me to shoot him in the back. To kill him. I didn’t do it. They were talking me into it the whole time while he was on the track. Kuze took him towards the dressing room. I told them “If you want to shoot, you have your own guns and shoot. I won’t shoot”.

Officer Refik Ahmetovic

whatever they wanted. The militia began beating up everybody who ran onto the field because, as the militia said at the time, they wanted to prevent conflicts of greater intensity. Night sticks, fists and feet were the militia’s weapons, while the fans used rocks and various improvised weapons.

Among those attacked was Faber’s cousin, Domagoj Majic, whom the militia brutally beat up with sticks and kicked around. As a result, the young man sustained severe injuries and is today an invalid. Faber was rewarded for courage, for managing to prevent a greater conflict in difficult conditions.

Aware of what the then militia was like, the Croatian fans did not enter clashes which they would had they known that there was too little security on the field. Otherwise, the cordon in front of the south stands would have been breached and the riots would have been of much higher intensity. Dinamo’s Zvonimir Boban was especially irritated by the events.

VIDEO: Zvonimir Boban shocks public by kicking an officer

Boban started defending the Croatian fans and when one officer of the militia hit him with a night stick, Boban struck back, jumping up and kicking the officer in the stomach. Because of this Zvonimir was suspended for nine months and managed Ivica Osim did not take him to the World Championship in Italy.

This was not a nationalist act, as many have tried to present it, but simply an act a young footballerPixsell-.--.- decided on in reaction to the injustice that was happening before his eyes, which one of Croatia’s best football players said on numerous occasions. The officer who hit Boban, Refik Ahmetovic, revealed in an interview for the Croatian Radio that his colleagues were trying to convince him to kill Boban.

- When I got up, my colleagues who were near me were convincing me to shoot him in the back. To kill him. I didn’t do it. They were talking me into it the whole time while he was on the track. Kuze took him towards the dressing room. I told them “If you want to shoot, you have your own guns and shoot. I won’t shoot” – Ahmetovic told Croatian Radio.

The riots on the stadium lasted for a little less than an hour and then transferred over to the streets of Zagreb and lasted until long into the night. The following day the media were divided. The Croatian media rose against Crvena Zvezda fans and the militia, they criticised the chief of security and his closest men, while the “Serb side” accused Croats for nationalism and causing riots that were toppling Yugoslavia.

It was the usual scenario at the time, despite the fact that the facts were obvious, even caught on camera. But distorting reality could not longer be done. The situation had gone too far and soon after the war began to which many of the participants from the riots on Maksimir Stadium went but never returned.