Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Football: Away supporters set to be forbidden in BiH again

Ivica Osim. (Source: scsport.ba)
After a number of violent fan-related incidents over the weekend, the Football Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina (FFBiH) looks set to re-impose a blanket ban on all away supporters at matches - merely 6 weeks after it lifted the prohibition.

Speaking to media on Tuesday, Ivica Osim, the Chairman of the Committee for the Normalisation of the FFBiH, suggested that away supporters must again be forbidden following the recent unsavoury incidents.

Over the weekend, a number of off-field incidents made headlines in the local papers. These occurrences included:
  • A number of pubs and cafes receiving extensive damage following clashes between supporters of Zeljeznicar and Zrinjski Mostar; 38 people were arrested.
  • Borac fans tearing out seats and smashing windows on their train ride back to Banja Luka following their match against Celik Zenica.
  • A mini-bus carrying nine Slavija Sarajevo fans being attacked and set alight by an unidentified group whilst passing through Mostar on their return from an away trip in Gabela. 
Osim was straight-forward when outlining what course of action would follow.

"There are not many dilemmas," he said. "We will again forbid organised away support at matches."

The 71-year-old continued on, saying that it was a "mistake" to remove the ban, and that the situation was now "worse than it was before."

"Now it shows how much we were right in the first place," Osim said. "If something doesn't work, then it simply doesn't work. It can't be forced.

"We won't ... wait until someone dies or, God forbid, burns inside a car, so we are sitting down and deciding  what we will do. It is going to be a prohibition, and that's it."


Football for fans!

Although there is little doubting there is an issue of fan trouble in Bosnia-Herzegovina, it must be questioned whether this is a reasonable and adequate measure to be taken.

The blanket ban on organised away support will not prevent further supporter incidents from occurring. Fans will continue to travel to the cities in which their club is playing. When you consider that these away supporters will be looking to evade police surveillance in order to reach the stadium, the likelihood of fan violence taking place is only multiplied.

An example of this occurred in Zenica in late March, when the media reported that Sarajevo supporters - who were defying a previous ban on away fans at a fixture against Celik - were attacked by locals at the stadium when it was discovered who they were. So, does the prohibition of away supporters really prevent trouble from occurring?

The answer to that question is no, and each of the incidents that took place over this most recent weekend could still easily occur, even with a stadium ban; especially when you consider that each incident occurred on the streets.

The support from the travelling 'Robijasi' in
Trebinje last month provided a great atmosphere
to an otherwise dull match.
Furthermore, and lets be frank for a moment, football as a sport is nothing without its fans. The atmosphere created by supporters at football stadiums is what separates it from other sports, and is, arguably, its 'X-factor'.

Last Saturday evening, I attended the fixture between Celik Zenica and Borac Banja Luka. Although the overall attendance only numbered a couple of thousand, the presence of ambient supporters from both sides - around 1000 of Celik's 'Robijasi' along with 200 travelling Borac fans - made for an electric and memorable atmosphere.

As I previously documented on here, I myself travelled to a Celik away fixture to the far-away city of Trebinje. As Trebinje's club is one with a very small fan-base, the only atmosphere being made on that day was by us away supporters.

I would hate to think how dull and boring that match would have been without us there, and, if this ban goes ahead, this will, sadly, become a common sight across many stadiums in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

I, therefore, call on Osim and his colleagues to reconsider such a drastic decision. Keep football for the fans!

1 comment:

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