Serbian Water Polo Clubs Give Ultimatum: We Will Not Play in Split

Daniela Rogulj

Updated on:

The Serbia Water Polo Federation (VSS) and the Serbian clubs sent a letter to the Regional League Management Board in which they stress that they do not want to play in Split and within 200 kilometers of Split until the end of the season due to safety reasons.

The Serbia Water Polo Federation and Serbian clubs brought this decision to the House of Water Polo after Red Star players were attacked in Split before the match against Mornar last weekend, reports on February 13, 2019. 

“Unfortunately, this hooligan attack was motivated by ethnic hatred, which in any case represents the most severe possible form of violence. Just by chance, fortunately for all of us, this attack did not end with a tragic outcome,” the statement said.

They added that “the quick reaction of the Croatian police and the fact that all relevant factors in Croatia, in politics and sports, condemned the incident, is reassuring.”

“We honestly believe that this will not only end, but that the perpetrators of this crime will be severely punished. The leadership of the Water Polo Federation of Serbia held a meeting with representatives of Serbian clubs, participants in the Regional League, to analyze the new situation and take certain steps. In conclusion, a unique position was adopted by all Serb clubs not to take part in sporting events in the city of Split until the end of this season, as well as any sports premises that are located less than 200 kilometers from Split, for security reasons.”

The VSS and Serbian clubs have called for a response from the leaders of the Regional League by February 19th.

Until the end of the regular part of the season, Red Star should play in Split against Mornar and POŠK, and Partizan against Jadran. In the Second Regional League, Kragujevac, Nais Niš, Vojvodina, and Valjevo would play against Galeb Makarska, Solaris Šibenik and Zadar 1952.

Shortly after that, a release was announced by the Croatia Water Polo Federation, expressing regret for the decision from Belgrade.

“Primarily because such a requirement of the Serbia Water Polo Federation and the clubs is in practice unenforceable, and, specifically, it means the interruption of cooperation and their departure from the joint Regional Water Polo League. Especially in light of the Split-Dalmatia Police Department’s letter sent to the Competition Commission which guarantees the safety of all participants in our water polo competition in Split.”

Also, it is an entirely unacceptable option for the future home games of our 7 Croatian clubs (Jadran, Mornar BS, POŠK, Jug CO, Solaris, Zadar 1952 and Galeb MR), namely, the teams from Dubrovnik, Šibenik, Zadar, and Makarska, to play as guests.

We express yet another regret and condemnation of the incident that took place in Split.”

They concluded: 

“Of course, Serbia’s decision not to play in Dalmatia can only be read as their resignation from the Regional League. 

At the same time, I do not think it is in the spirit of partner relations to make such radical decisions, without any prior consultation with other RVL member associations, and above all with the Croatia Water Polo Federation, who is directly involved.

If clubs from Serbia are willing to finish the final round of this season’s RVL as it is proposed and foreseen, we will support this position in Croatia.

If, however, the Serbia Water Polo Federation really insists on not playing in Dalmatia, I think that it would end the league in this format. The league that I recall is voluntary, and just as we formed it equally, we can also break it.

The Croatia Water Polo Federation will send its position to the Serbia Water Polo Federation in the shortest possible time, on which we will wait for the official statement,” said the Vice-President and Executive Director of the Croatia Water Polo Federation, Perica Bukić.

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