Serbian side Red Star Belgrade’s fans have welcomed a real battle tank which was used during the bloody war of Yugoslavia in the 90s at their home-ground. The club unveiled the decommissioned Soviet-made T-55 Yugoslav army tank on the eve of their Champions League playoffs against Swiss side Young Boys on Tuesday. The club website says that the tank symbolizes their slogan “Machine Has Started.” and the vehicle was parked near the northern stand at the stadium near which is reserved for the club’s ultras, called Delije, or roughly translated the tough boys.
While the fans refer to themselves as the Northern Army, have often used a tank symbol to show their support for their club during home games, but this daring stunt has triggered a strong reaction from neighbouring Croatia, which fought a war for independence from the Serb-led Yugoslavia. The Croatian media said the tank is “a clear provocation”, “a scandal,” and suggested that the European governing body of football, UEFA, must react. Various liberal Serbian organisations have called on authorities to remove the army vehicle and condemned the display as “glorification of war symbols.”
Watch the Red Star fans celebrate their victory over Young Boys riding the tank:
Typically discreet celebration from the Red Star Belgrade players as they toasted qualification to the Champions League last night by riding through the streets on a tank. pic.twitter.com/4hCEOtZbC8
— MUNDIAL (@MundialMag) August 28, 2019
The armored vehicle which has been painted in red and white the official color of the club, was purchased from a military waste site, club officials confirmed. But this could prove to be a “stupid decision” and could lead to serious UEFA punishments, some reports claim.
The tank was put out in public, just a week after some masked assailants attacked two bars in Croatia as few ethnic Serbs in that country were watching Red Star’s first leg-match against Young Boys on television. The horrific incident which left at least five people injured and damages to the bar, has also triggered heated discussions among Croatian and Serbian politicians.
[Video by TW/@MundialMag]