Wednesday, April 4th, 2012
Bosnian football has a big violence problem, and the match between Borac and Zeljeznicar is a self-detonating powder-keg of racial hatred.
During last September’s league match between the sides, the home Borac fans produced a banner hailing Bosnian Serb genocide suspect Ratko Mladic. Next thing you know Zeljeznicar took a surprise lead in the 28th minute, and that proved enough reasonable provocation for the home fans to storm the pitch to attack their rivals supporters. (See here.)
Days later the Bosnian cup match between Zrinjski and Velez also exploded into violence when the adversarial Croat and Muslim communities in the ethnically-divided town of Mostar clashed. (See here.)
Wednesday saw a new, sad chapter in the ongoing challenge of football to cut across Bosnian ethnic divides.
The cup had fatefully drawn Borac and Zeljeznicar back together again. Zeljeznicar took the lead through a superb Zajko Zeba free-kick and then the trouble erupted.
Amid nationalist chants midway through the second half, Borac fans hurled a hard object that hit the linesman and busting his bald head wide open. With the blood trickling down the linesman’s face, referee Midhat Arnatuvic abandoned the match.