Croatia beat Serbia in acrimonious football game

  • 22 March 2013
  • From the section Europe
Croatian fans during the Croatia-Serbia match in Zagreb. Photo: 22 March 2013
Image caption It was the first official match between the two now independent nations

Croatia have beaten Serbia in a football World Cup qualifier, amid heavy security in a hostile atmosphere.

The Serbian national anthem was booed at the start of the game, and the home fans in Zagreb continued with abusive chants against their fierce rivals.

At one stage a chorus of "Kill a Serb" echoed round the stadium. Serbian supporters were barred from attending the match which Croatia won 2-0.

The two nations fought a war during the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Fascist songs

Some 40,000 Croatian supporters gathered on Friday for the first official match between the now two independent nations.

There was heavy security in Zagreb, despite an earlier agreement between Croatia and Serbia that travelling fans would be banned from attending the match to reduce the possibility of violence.

And despite repeated appeals by the Croatian football authorities to respect the visiting side, the home crowd soon started singing fascist songs from the 1940s - when tens of thousands of Serbs died in Croatia at the hands of the Ustasa militias.

Police had warned they would stop the game under these circumstances - but they did not, the BBC's Guy Delauney reports from Zagreb.

The European football governing body, Uefa, may take a dimmer view - or it may just be satisfied that there were no violent incidents on or off the pitch, our correspondent adds.

Croatia - who will play the return match in Serbia in September - now top their qualifying Group A together with Belgium, and are in a strong position to qualify for the World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014.

Meanwhile, Serbia has all but lost any chances to progress from the group.

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