World Cup Qualifying Match in Belgrade

South End Fans Demonstrate Their Enthusiasm
South End Fans Demonstrate Their Enthusiasm

Serbia defeated Austria 1 – 0 Saturday evening in a World Cup Qualifier at Red Star Stadium in Belgrade. Serbia got an early goal through a penalty kick and the rest of the game was scoreless. Both teams hit the goal post, with Austria having a few more chances for a goal than Serbia. Serbia was lucky to get the three points, as they were not as explosive offensively as in past games. They will need to play better to win the group. The win takes them to 18 points in 7 games. They play the Faroe Islands this week in their last game until September. On a side note, I think it is a joke that a group of “autonomous” islands that belong to Denmark can have a World Cup Qualifying team with a population of 50,000. What a waste of money for Serbia to have to travel there! The Faroe Islands have absolutely zero chance of ever qualifying for a World Cup.

Serbian and Manchester United Star Vidic Comes Off With an Injury
Serbian and Manchester United Star Vidic Comes Off With an Injury

We didn’t get to enjoy the game because of the over crowding in the stadium. The game was sold out and then some. I should have known something was up when I noticed fans arriving to the stadium two and 1/2 hours before gametime. I am used to having to do this from my many years in Latin America, especially Colombia. Many Latin American countries have problems with counterfeit tickets, seats being sold twice by corrupt game officials, poor crowd control and security in the stadium. This causes fans to have to show up hours before a big match to guarantee a seat. It seemed like a similar situation in the stadium here. We unfortunately arrived 15 minutes before kick off. I had Owen with me as well as my friend Eric. There were lines to enter the stadium, and funny thing was they never even checked our tickets. We got to the tunnel leading to our seats and it was tightly packed. As we were walking in and down the steps, we felt pushed from behind. It was quite crowded and Serbs are big people. I put Owen on my shoulders and I was concerned that I was going to fall. Eric put out his shoulder and braced himself against the wall as I eventually passed Owen to a soldier that was there. Luckily the press box was right next to the exit and the soldier kindly passed Owen up over the plexiglass wall and a cameraman helped him over. After he was safe, Eric and I made our way out of the aisle in into the row beneath the press box. It was standing room only all the way down the aisle and next to the aisle. It was this way for all of the tunnels leading to the field around the stadium. People were shouting “polako” (take it easy) and as game time approached, they all got settled in. One young boy was a bit shook up as he also escaped and stood by us. I don’t think we would have been trampled, but it if we would have fallen down, it could have gotten ugly, especially for Owen.

This brought home to me that stadium officials need to be more organized. It will keep me away from the stadium because I don’t have 5 hours to waste at the stadium and it was not comfortable to watch the game. They need better control at the gates and entry tunnels. I was surprised at this because of all of the other events I attended here, have been well done.

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3 thoughts on “World Cup Qualifying Match in Belgrade

  1. :)

    Hehe Bill… you probably heard this sentence 1000 times “You’re in Serbia” 🙂
    Well the probelm is that seats are not numbered so ticket that you bought are for every seat in that area of the stadium (e.g. if you buy ticket for west stands you can sit on the seat that suits you). That’s why when there is som big matches in Serbia people are told to come to the stadium at least an hour – hour and a halt earlyer.
    How did you like the atmoshphere at the stadium? 🙂

    And just to correct you – there were no soldiers on the stadium 🙂 just police and special police forces know as “riot squad”… I assume that was the guy that helped you.

    I live to read you blog and I hope you’re enjoying your staying here in Serbia…

    All the best!

    P.S. Write something about Nick Slaughte (Rob Stewart, lead actor in 90-ties tw show Topical Heat) 🙂 He’s here and he’s making documentary about his popularity in Serbia and how his character Nick Slaughter became so popular on students protests against Milosevic. Just type Nick Slaughter (Nik Sloter) on youtube 🙂

    1. billkralovec

      The atmosphere is great in the stadium. I attended Red Star versus Partizan this past fall.

      My neighbors were telling me about why an obscure Canadian television series “Tropical Heat” was so popular here. The actor who played Nick Slaughter has been shocked during his visit here. I read the B 92 article. Hilarious! I bet he is thinking, I should have come 10 years ago.

  2. Pingback: Serbia Versus France « Bill’s Blog

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