Red Star Belgrade defeated Fiorentina in a friendly on Wednesday, but a political message from supporters directed at Kosovo overshadowed the 5-0 win.

Red Star Belgrade Ultras reveal banner against Kosovo

The Red Star Belgrade ultras unfurled a massive banner depicting a tank against the backdrop of the Serbian flag. Additionally, the banner read “When the army returns to Kosovo” in Serbian. As a result, the Football Federation of Kosovo (FFK) lodged a complaint with UEFA.

FFK’s statement condemned the event and demanded an investigation into Red Star’s ultras.

“The Kosovo Football Federation strongly condemns and at the same time expresses its anger and concern regarding the scandalous, warmongering choreography of the fans of the Serbian club, Crvena Zvezda, in the football match against Fiorentina in Belgrade.

“The presentation of a tank as a choreographer in the stands with the symbolism against Kosovo is an unacceptable and unparalleled act for sports, but also for harmony and peace between countries and peoples in our region, especially in the period of tensions between the two countries.

“This publicly expressed act, accompanied by provocative slogans, proves that the opinion in Serbia and the authorities there have not changed at all from the aggressive approach and at the same time it is an open provocation towards the sport of football and the Republic of Kosovo”, the statement said.

FFK urges UEFA to take matters into own hands

To avoid future provocations, the FFK urged harsh sanctions against the Serbian team and its supporters. Also, it argued that soccer should bring people together rather than drive them apart. The sport should foster relationships rather than hostility.

“This case makes us understand that the bodies of UEFA and FIFA urgently need to take tougher measures against the violation of the principles and basic values of the football game. We hope and trust that our complaint and response will be taken seriously and those who incite hatred through football will be punished.

FFK will continue to promote the true values of football, as it is aware that a safe and respectful environment in stadiums is essential to experience the excitement of football in a positive way”, they added.

Red Star’s fan base has a history of issues and controversy. The group directed racist chants at Zlatan Ibrahimović in 2021.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Aleksandar Djorovic