UEFA have confirmed they have opened “a full and thorough” investigation into the incidents which caused the abandonment of last night’s Euro 2012 qualifier between Italy and Serbia in Genoa.
The match at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris was called off after only six minutes as travelling fans threw flares and fireworks onto the pitch.
The kick-off had already been delayed by 35 minutes when, after pre-match clashes between visiting supporters and Italian police, Serbian fans threw flares in the direction of the north stand where Italian supporters were seated.
UEFA, who were waiting on the receipt of the official UEFA delegate’s match report before deciding whether to open a disciplinary case, issued a statement around 1200 CET confirming the matter was being looked into.
It read: “Following the abandonment of yesterday’s UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying match between Italy and Serbia at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa after only six minutes of play, UEFA has confirmed today that it has immediately opened a full and thorough disciplinary investigation into the incidents of serious disorder witnessed at the match and the circumstances surrounding it.
“Once the full dossier is completed, with the assistance of both the referee and delegate reports, the matter will be put before the independent UEFA control and disciplinary body for further review and possible sanctions.
“The sanctions that are available to the control and disciplinary body can be found in the UEFA disciplinary regulations, edition 2008, article 14, and range from a reprimand or fine, up to a stadium closure or ’disqualification from competitions in progress and/or exclusion from future competitions’.
“The proposed date for the meeting of the control and disciplinary body to hear this case is Thursday 28 October.”
Northern Ireland will wait to hear UEFA's verdict as they plan their trip to Belgrade next spring.
Patrick Nelson, chief executive of the Irish Football Association, said today the body would wait to hear from UEFA before making any judgments on safety.
He said: “It’s a matter for UEFA and we will look out and see what they say about it as our next away game is away in Serbia.
“We’ll need to plan for that game in the near future. We plan all our trips carefully as all trips are different.
“We have a security officer as part of the team. We will work with him, UEFA and the other country, whichever country that may be.
“We also work quite closely with the Amalgamation (of Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs), not just for this trip to Serbia but every trip.”
Serbian Football Association president Tomislav Karadzic admitted his shame and revealed the problems did not come as a surprise.
“We had indications that this would happen,” he told Belgrade’s B92 television. “These fans are just the executors, it was planned in Belgrade.
“This has brought embarrassment and shame on our country. We had problems during training, before the match, and now this... the state must react.”
Italian Football Federation security chief Roberto Massucci blamed Serbian authorities for allowing unruly fans to travel, saying: “Fans that are so dangerous should not have arrived in Genoa. They should have been stopped by the Serbian officials.
“We were aware that this game had a risk factor but a behaviour of such aggressiveness we had not experienced for some time.
“From the traditional channels of communication with the Serbian police, we had not been given any signs of the degree of danger of these fans.”
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli could not hide his disappointment after the abandonment.
“We are extremely sad and very bitter,” he said. “I’ve never experienced anything like this.
“The (Serbia) players have been assaulted by their own fans in their bus.
“Their goalkeeper (Vladimir Stojkovic) was in our changing room, he was trembling and had fear not only about tonight but also in view of returning home.
“The ultra fans seemed organised. It appeared as though they would have done everything possible to make sure the game was not played. According to the Serbian players, that was their aim.”
Stojkovic and striker Nikola Zigic were both too shaken to discuss the events afterwards, with the Birmingham targetman admitting to B92: “I do not know what I feel.”