Serbia to ask for replay with Italy

BELGRADE - Serbia will ask UEFA to reschedule their Euro 2012 qualifier against Italy which was abandoned after crowd trouble in Genoa on Tuesday, the Serbian Football Association (FSS) said on Friday.

"We will meet with UEFA president Michel Platini and the football governing body's other top officials on October 18 and ask for a replay," FSS president Tomislav Karadzic told a news conference.

"We are not optimistic about the verdict but we will try to present our case and make it clear that the FSS did everything in its power to prevent the incidents.

"However, no punishment should come as a surprise."

Karadzic condemned Serbian fans, who rioted and forced the game to be abandoned after seven minutes, but also blamed the violence on poor organisation by the Italian FA.

"The FSS Executive Board is unanimous in the assessment that it was up to the Italian Football Association to organise the match properly," he said.

"We had information that some fan groups from Serbia were going to cause trouble and we duly notified the Italian FA and police what might happen."

FSS security commissioner Milivoje Mirkov added: "The policing by the Italian authorities was weak outside the stadium before the match, as it was in the riots that broke out inside the ground."

The Italian football federation issued a short statement in response to the Serbian news conference.

"The federation calmly awaits the developments of UEFA´s disciplinary probe and intends to continue to maintain its responsible behaviour," it read.

Serbian fans attacked their own team bus before the kick off, focusing on the team's goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic because of domestic club rivalry, before they hurled flares at Italian players and fans inside the Luigi Ferraris stadium.

The match was abandoned and UEFA's control and disciplinary body has several sanctions available, ranging from a large fine to expelling Serbia from the Euro 2012 qualifiers and future competitions.

Serbia's ability to crush hooliganism, which has plagued its football for two decades, will be tested on October 23 when Belgrade's bitter foes Red Star and Partizan are to clash in what is likely to be an explosive derby.

Stojkovic has been targeted by diehard fans of his former club Red Star after joining Partizan on loan from Portugal's Sporting in August.

"After consultations with both clubs, we decided that the derby should go ahead because postponing it or playing behind closed doors would cast doubts over the ability of Serbia's authorities to enforce the law," Karadzic said.

"The authorities should give the go-ahead after assessing the security situation but our position is that most Serbian fans are decent people essential to our football, while the minority giving it a bad name must be brought to justice."

Fixtures between Red Star and Partizan have a long history of crowd trouble with several deaths and thousands of serious injuries in fan clashes.