Crowd trouble forces Euro 2012 Qualifier between Italy and Serbia to be called off

Police and firemen called upon to control stadium
The Euro 2012 qualifier between Italy and Serbia at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris has been called off after persistant crowd trouble forced the intervention of Italian police and firemen inside the stadium.

The game was initially delayed with trouble emanating from the stands, forcing the intervention of the police to try and control the situation involving Serbian 'Ultras', with reports of the burning of an Albanian flag and unconfirmed reports that Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic was struck by a flare thrown from a section of the crowd. 

Firemen were also called into action, spraying the crowd with water cannons to try and control the situation and prevent it from escalating out of control.

Some order was eventually restored but within six minutes of kick-off, the match was cancelled outright as flares were thrown onto the pitch.

20:50 CET: Fan trouble caused a stand-off at Marassi as Serbia Ultras cause havoc, putting the Euro 2012 qualifier with Italy at risk of being called off.

Around 2000 Serbia fans had been causing trouble since the afternoon, and unconfirmed reports claimed the Serbian goalkeeper was injured when a flare was thrown into the team bus.

The game looked like it would be called off. Uefa delegates and officials called an emergency meeting with the Italian FA officials.

Around 100 riot police entered the pitch in the section below the Serbia fans.

The teams initially came on to the pitch, but the trouble and tension, always mounting, forced them to head back into the dressing rooms for safety reasons.

Serbia fans showed resistance. They wanted conflict with the police and were instigating violent reactions.

One big man wearing a mask seemed to be the ring-leader as he tore the large curtain seperating the stand from the pitch with a sharp object. Another Ultra also sitting on the fence burned an Albanian flag.

21:00 CET: Flares were being thrown at police who seemed likely to enter the stand, but this looked as though it could cause explosive tension.

Authorities doubted the game would go ahead. Italian and Serbian police discussed ways to deal with the trouble.

Italy fans in the stand next to Serbian Ultras were moved on. There was a stand-off between police and Serbia Ultras.

Players returned to the pitch to warm up, sending a message that they wanted to play.

However, Serbia fans armed themselves and started to smash the reinforced barriers in an attempt at breaking out to fight the police.

21:12 CET: Sadly it was all heading towards unsavoury scenes.

Serbia team bus driver told RAI television that Serbia Ultras boarded the coach and threw a flare at Vladimir Stojkovic, injuring him. He was not even on the bench.

Fans continued to smash glass in Marassi.

21:15 CET: Police positioned themselves towards the emergency exit and they were planning to force the Serbia fans to leave the ground.

21:17 CET: Security people were frantically working to solve the problem. The latest from Italian commentators claimed Uefa wanted the game to go ahead.

21:18 CET: Uefa confirmed the game will go ahead, according to RAI.

21:20 CET: Dejan Stankovic to RAI: "We are trying to calm our fans, not applaud them."

21:21 CET: Italy's head of security: "There are conditions to play. The game will go ahead."

The game finally kicked off shortly after, but six minutes into the clash two flares were thrown from the Serbia end and landed close to Italy goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano who walked away.

That incident was finally enough for referee Craig Thomson to blow his whistle and order the players to leave the pitch.

After a consultation between the referee, Italy, Serbia and Uefa delegates, the Italian FA confirmed the game would be abandoned.

Italy head of security Roberto Masucci told RAI: "The game has been suspended because of a decision by the referee."

Fans left the stadium and went home. Around 1,000 remained inside the ground.

Meanwhile, outside the ground the trouble flared again. La Repubblica reports Serbia fans left the stadium after the game was suspended, but Italy fans were waiting outside with bottles which started to fly. Riot police got involved and tried to disperse the crowd as Serbia ultras tried to fight.

Our  provides the best breaking news online and our  football fan community is unmatched worldwide. Never miss a thing again!