Red Star Belgrade punished for racial abuse of Zlatan Ibrahimović

UEFA says its disciplinary committee found charges proven of racist behaviour and “provocative, offensive chanting.”

AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks on during a Serie A contest on April 3 in Milan.   -  AP

Red Star Belgrade was punished by UEFA on Wednesday for racial abuse aimed toward Zlatan Ibrahimović when the club hosted AC Milan in a Europa League game meant to be played without fans in the stadium.

Ibrahimović was sitting in the stands as a substitute for his Italian team during a Europa League round-of-32 game in Belgrade in February. Footage published online detailed insults shouted at Ibrahimović targeting his Balkan family roots. He was born in Sweden to parents from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia.

UEFA said its disciplinary committee found charges proven of racist behaviour and “provocative, offensive chanting.”

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Red Star must play its next European competition home game in an empty stadium. The Serbian league leader is likely to serve the ban in July when the Champions League first qualifying round is played. UEFA deferred a second stadium ban for a one-year probation period and also fined the club EUR 25,000 (USD 30,000) for “transmitting a provocative message of an offensive nature.”

It was unclear exactly who shouted the abuse at Ibrahimović. Red Star officials and guests were in the main stand though no tickets should have been sold to fans.

UEFA also fined Red Star EUR 5,000 euros (USD 6,000) for breaching health protocol rules during the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing in spectators and not enforcing social distancing.