At the annual Congress in Stara Pazova, Serbia, the Southeast European Sports Journalists Association (SEESJA) appealed to countries in the region to prevent violence at sporting events and to push for the harsher and faster punishment of hooligans.
Each of the countries in the region have a problem with incidents caused by ‘ultra’ fans, who spread hatred and nationalism. Hooligans are pushing true fans of sport out from the stands and creating a sense of insecurity, especially during derbies and national team matches.
FIFA and UEFA fine national football associations after such incidents, but such punishments do not affect the real perpetrators. It is often the case that those against whom the police have launched a number of criminal charges, go to stadiums freely and repeated offenses. Judicial proceedings against them last for months, years, with trials often becoming obsolete.
Representatives of the sports journalists' associations from Bulgaria, Montenegro, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, FYROM, Turkey, Croatia and Serbia agreed that judicial authorities must look to the British or German courts, which quickly react and punish hooligans.
During the SEESJA Congress, the journalist teams gathered for the traditional football tournament where they were greeted by the Serbian Minister of Sport and Youth Vanja Udovicic. Moldova won in the final match against Croatia by 5:4, while Montenegro took third place after defeating Hungary – 7:1. Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYROM, Serbia and Turkey made up the remainder of the classification.
Individual awards were given to Milan Stjelja from Croatia (Best player), Ilija Krivokapic from Montenegro (Top scorer) and Miran Grozdic from Bosnia and Herzegovina (Best goalkeeper). The Fair play trophy was awarded to Turkey.
The Congress was attended by 100 journalists from 9 countries. The event was hosted by the Association of Sports Journalists of Serbia (USNS) at the home of the Serbian Football Federation (FSS).