Red Star Fans Wheel out Tank Ahead of Match in Belgrade, Move Shocks Croats

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, August 27, 2019 – The Belgrade-based football club Red Star (Crvena Zvezda) has allowed the parking of a tank outside the club’s stadium ahead of Tuesday night’s Champions League qualifying playoff against Swiss team Young Boys, an action that caused indignation among the Croats.

The dpa news agency has reported that the fans of this Serbian club have parked a decommissioned tank in front of their stadium ahead of Tuesday night’s Champions League qualifying playoff “in a gesture one fan described as ‘entirely normal’.

The news agency recalls that the Soviet-made T-55 tank is one of over a thousand that served for decades with the now-defunct Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA), including during Croatia’s war of independence in the 1990s.

“The tank, fully decommissioned, welded shut and freshly painted in camouflage colours and adorned with the club’s trademark red and white emblem, was parked in front of the northern entrance of the Rajko Mitić Stadium on Monday,” says the dpa.

“The northern side of the stadium is usually reserved for Red Star supporters, who in the past have often been involved in violent incidents and expressed strong nationalist views.

“The Red Star machine is being prepared,” the RSB fan Web site said ahead of the second-leg of the playoff, currently 2-2 on aggregate.

The web portal of the Croatian daily newspaper Večernji List comments on these developments with writing “Provocation! A tank from Vukovar parked in the centre of Begrade”.

Vukovar was ravaged in the late 1991 when the JNA-supported Serb paramilitary and rebel forces occupied that eastern Croatian city. The town was reintegrated into Croatia in 1998.

The dpa says that a club spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Red Star fans dismissed the idea that parking a tank in front of the stadium was provocative, and dozens of them posed in front of it for photos.

“This is not a provocation… This is entirely normal… The war ended 25 years ago,” said Nenad, a fan from the northern town of Zrenjanin. “This is the symbol ever since I’ve been a Red Star fan,” he was quoted as saying.

Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanović suggested there was no problem, pointing out that there were no ordnance or explosive devices inside the machine.

“This is something that resembles a tank. It has tracks and a mock turret… The prosecution said there are no reasons for police action,” he told reporters.

The Belgrade-based Blic tabloid reported that the club perceived the tank as “cultural heritage”.

More news about relations between Croatia and Serbia can be found in the Politics section.


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