Northern Ireland fans warned over Serbia match

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Northern Ireland football fans are being advised not to make independent travel arrangements for the Euro Qualifier with Serbia in March.

It follows crowd trouble at the Italy-Serbia game on Tuesday night that led to the game being abandoned after just seven minutes.

Pre-match clashes in Genoa had already delayed the kick-off.

Travelling fans threw flares and fireworks onto the pitch and clashed with Italian police.

On Wednesday, the Irish Football Association said it would wait for Uefa's verdict on the violence before planning their trip to Belgrade for the match on 25 March.

The events in Genoa will be discussed at a Uefa meeting on 28 October, with the Italian football federation also facing possible punishment.

The Northern Ireland game could be moved to a neutral venue, while other possible sanctions for the Serbian FA include a reprimand or fine, stadium closure or even disqualification from current and/or future competitions.

Image caption,
Crowd trouble saw Tuesday's game in Italy abandoned

"The IFA's message to our fans is that their safety is paramount," the IFA's Stephen Grange said.

"We will be discouraging independent travel to Serbia and will be advising fans to ensure they are on organised trips and that we look to assist travel arrangement."

The violence by the fans provoked anger in Serbia.

It came only days after riots on the streets of Belgrade, as mobs tried to attack a gay pride rally.

The Serbian press has linked the two events, in some cases suggesting they may have been part of a deliberate attempt to undermine Serbia's ambitions to join the European Union.