Serbian Red Star fan stabbed to death in Istanbul

Serbian Red Star fan stabbed to death in Istanbul

Serbian Red Star fan stabbed to death in Istanbul

The body of the killed Serbian basketball fan is taken to the Forensics Institute. DHA photo

A supporter of the Serbian basketball club Red Star was stabbed and killed on Nov. 21 in Istanbul in front of the venue where a Turkish Airlines Euroleague game between Galatasaray Liv Hospital and the visiting side was being played.

The Serbian club claimed in a written statement that the 25-year-old Marko Ivkovic was killed by Galatasaray hooligans, while the Istanbul police said the killing was the result of a fight between Red Star’s supporters.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic voiced "outrage over the monstrous murder," according to a government statement on Nov. 22.

Serbia demands that the perpetrator be urgently "found, arrested and most severely punished," it added.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu called Vucic to express his condolences over the death.

Davutoğlu voiced regret over the killing of Ivkovic and pledged that Turkish authorities would do everything to find the perpetrator.

Vucic also said that Galatasaray coach Ergin Ataman would not be welcome in Serbia after he "accused the killed young man and all other Red Star fans of terrorism," the Serbian government statement said.

Ataman wrote on his Twitter account on Nov. 22 that he was not aware of the killing when he made the remarks after the game. 

“My deepest condolences to Red Star club and the fans. I’m deeply saddened by their loss, this tragedy has no place in sport or life,” Ataman wrote.

The victim was immediately hospitalized after the incident on Nov. 21 and was operated on for five hours, but could not be saved.

“There were incidents among Galatasaray supporters and Red Star fans, who did not have tickets to watch the Turkish Airlines Euroleague game between Galatasaray Liv Hospital and Red Star, before the game on Nov. 21,” Istanbul police said in a written statement.

“The two groups threw stones and bottles on each other but the police kept them apart. It was understood that one supporter was stabbed and killed while the Red Star fans were being escorted from the venue. A probe has been launched into the incident,” the statement added.

The two sides battled in a sellout Euroleague match that Galatasaray won 110-103. But many fans were left outside with no tickets.

Nebojsa Covic, the Red Star president, blamed Turkish organizers and the police for the first spectator violence fatality in the Euroleague.

"The organization of this game was a shame, the behavior of the [Turkish] police was a shame. They knew perfectly well what might happen," Covic said in comments published by Serbian media.

He said there were vacant seats in the stadium and claimed the Turkish club and police announced it was a sellout after they discovered more Serbian fans were coming.

Euroleague Basketball condemned the "senseless violence" in which Ivkovic died.

"This tragedy offends the true spirit of sports," Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague Basketball president, said in a statement. "Violence has no place in our game, at our arenas or anywhere near them," he added.

Euroleague said it has requested that both clubs and the Turkish authorities make available all the information about the incident and will evaluate any measures to be taken.

Trouble erupted in front of the stadium, the Serbian consul in Istanbul Zoran Markovic told Serbian state-run Tanjug news agency.

According to Tanjug, Galatasaray fans attacked some 400 Red Star supporters who did not have tickets. Stones and flares were thrown in the battle.

The Turkish club said the fight was started by Red Star fans in streets outside the stadium and expressed "deep sorrow" over the death.

"We are of the opinion that this judicial case has nothing to do with Galatasaray Sports Club, or its supporters," Galatasaray said in a statement.

"We want to emphasize once more that violence overshadowing the basic goal of sports is unacceptable no matter where it comes from and in what form, and hope that peace will prevail in sports fields," it added.