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Serbia coach calls for referee ‘to be tried in the Hague’

Kaliningrad (Russia) (AFP) – Serbia’s coach has reacted to his team’s World Cup defeat to Switzerland by calling for the referee to be put on trial in the Hague, in a reference to the war crimes tribunal for the ex-Yugoslavia.

Serbia were furious when German referee Felix Brych failed to award a penalty in Friday’s game after Aleksandar Mitrovic was wrestled to the ground in the penalty area by Swiss defenders Stephan Lichtsteiner and Fabian Schaer.

Despite opening the scoring through Mitrovic in the fifth minute, Serbia lost 2-1 after Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri netted for Switzerland.

“We were robbed,” Mladen Krstajic told Serbian reporters on Saturday, when asked about Brych’s decision.

“I wouldn’t give him either a yellow or red card, I would send him to the Hague. Then they could put him on trial, like they did to us.”

The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is a UN body that prosecutes the perpetrators of war crimes committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia.

Krstajic also posted photographs from the match on his Instagram account, accompanied by the comment: “Unfortunately, it seems that only the Serbs are condemned to a selective justice, once (it was) the Hague and today in football the VAR…”

He was referring to the video assistant referee that is being used in the World Cup to check controversial incidents, but was not used on this occasion.

The match in Kaliningrad was played in a febrile atmosphere underpinned by Balkan politics because Xhaka and Shaqiri have roots in Kosovo, a former province of Serbia that has declared independence in a move not recognised by Belgrade.

Both players pointedly celebrated their goals by making a double eagle gesture with their hands to represent the Albanian flag, with which many people in Kosovo identify.

Shaqiri said his celebration was “just emotion”.

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