Posted: 10/19/2012


       Half a century ago my college mate Andy and I hitch hiked all the way from the North of England, via the Harwich-Ostende ferry through Europe to Belgrade, capital of Yugoslavia, and now just Serbia.

       We found a room at the Patrice Lumumba Dom, a new Hall of Residence for the University of Belgrade for a week while we watched the European Athletics Championships at the Partizan Stadium. About 2.00am we were woken up by two soldiers in green battle dress, screaming and pointing sub machine guns at us. Luckily there was a local student sharing the 3 bedded room who explained we didn't understand. All they wanted was for us to show the receipt for the bed. WELCOME TO A DICTATORSHIP. !

       Patrice Lumumbu was the former Prime Minister of The Congo who, on the orders of President Dwight Eisenhower, had asked the Allen Dulles head of the CIA and the US Ambassador to have him assassinated. He was kidnapped, flown to the rebels in Katanga, tortured, murdered and chopped into pieces, and dissolved in acid on 17th June, 1961. The CIA buried him one day and moved him to a new unmarked grave the next. His 5 young kids still survive and are involved in politics and democratic reforms. None of them sports an I LIKE IKE button. Read Blood River by Tim Butcher. Great read on Congo history.

       Yesterday Red Star Belgrade were fined 42,000 by UEFA for their fans targeting Spurs black players at a Europa Cup match recently at White Hart Lane. A couple of years ago an international match in Genoa between Italy and Serbia was abandoned after visiting fans went wild. In Belgrade there is now a memorial to a Tolouse FC supporter murdered by football thugs prior to a match. In Holland at a previous U 21 tournament in 2007 Serbian fans abused England players and their federation was fined.

       You probably saw the nasty scenes on Tuesday afternoon at the Mladost Stadium in Krusevac, 100 miles south of the capital, after a 4th minute added time goal by Connor Wickham sealed a 1-0 victory for the young Three Lions, and a 2-0 aggregate win that takes them to the Final 8 in Israel next summer. There was fighting on the pitch after that, flares had been thrown, and monkey chants and GK coach Martin Thomas was head butted and assistant coach Steve Wigley kicked in the stomach.

       Some Serbian players and assistant coach Desav Govedrrica tried hard to calm the situation. Only a lengthy ban, and not a fine will suffice. Welcome to the KICK OUT RACISM WEEK in England.

       Yesterday the President of Serbia issued an apology, and the Serbian Federation, still partly in denial, has asked every Serbian player and official present to submit a written report by this weekend.