The Slovenia Times

Maribor football club punished over fan violence

Maribor fans. Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

The Maribor football club has been slapped with severe sanctions following a violent outburst among its fans at the 18 February premier league fixture against Mura which left seven people injured.

Maribor were in a 2:0 lead when a stun grenade thrown from amidst Viole, Maribor ultras, injured six Mura members and an underage ball boy when it exploded near where the players were warming up.

A disciplinary judge of the Football Association of Slovenia (NZS) has now imposed a fine of a €25,000 on Maribor and registered the match 3:0 in favour of Mura.

Maribor will also have to play their next four home games in front of empty stands. The club can appeal against the decision within three days after receiving the minutes of the disciplinary judge's hearing.

In announcing the decision on 26 February, the NZS quoted the disciplinary judge Boštjan Jeglič as explaining that Maribor's fans had been unsporting and behaved inappropriately - having shouted insults, and lit flares, which they threw on the side where players were warming up.

After the match was suspended, flares were thrown towards firefighters and police officers, and the stun grenade injured five Mura bench players, a coach and a ball boy, he said. Maribor fans caused the suspension of the game, damaged chairs and threw some of them onto the pitch.

The disciplinary judge had taken into account statements by everyone involved, including police officers and both clubs. The safety of players, referees, officials, spectators and others comes first, so security threats must be treated utterly seriously, the NZS said.

"Lighting and throwing flares on the pitch is absolutely unacceptable and must never be interpreted as admissible or justified as part of some group of fans' 'tradition', because it is extremely dangerous," the NZS said.

Legislation to be tightened to stop hooligans

The worst such incident in Slovenia was met with widespread condemnation by football and other officials and by both well-established ultras groups in Slovenia, Maribor's Viole and Ljubljana's Green Dragons.

Ministers responsible for sports and home affairs met sporting officials last week to discuss measures to prevent such incidents, agreeing to work to implement stricter measures and sanctions on hooligans.

"We will tighten criminal legislation against hooligans who endanger people and property," Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar announced, adding that those caught using pyrotechnics will be banned from entering stadiums. He also announced steps to improve video surveillance on the stands.

The current legislation on sanctioning hooliganism was adopted in 2013, when the most violent fan groups were damaging trains and buses and violating public order on motorway stops and in bars.

The legislation allows the police to ban hooligans from attending matches when they have caused disruption on their way to the sporting venue. They can order hooligans to leave sporting events. Repeat offenders have to report to a police station when large sporting events are held, which essentially prevents them from attending.


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