On Friday, Red Star Belgrade apologized to AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic after being threatened during a Europa League match without supporters in the stands, with repeated ethnic slurs from fans.
Amateur video shows that Ibrahimovic, who has Bosnian and Croatian origins, was regularly hit by the slurs as he sat in the stands as a replacement during Thursday’s 2-2 draw between the two teams.
Despite derogatory words for Bosnian nationals being aimed at him in Serbian, a language he understands, the 39-year-old Swedish star sat without showing emotion.
On Friday, Red Star released a message to Ibrahimovic “sincerely apologizing” and promising to punish the culprit when he is identified.
“Red Star condemns the offensive remarks directed at Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the strongest terms,” the statement said.
“We have done everything as a club to ensure that the organization of the match is at the level of the two great teams and we will not allow a single primitive individual to throw a stain on our country and our people’s traditional hospitality.”
Owing to COVID-19 limits, the match should have been played with no fans attending. But several Red Star fans gained access to the top of the stands that were reserved for officials only.
Fans of the Red Star are infamous for aggressive outbursts in the stands that also contain ethnic slurs toward Bosnians, Croats, and Kosovars with whom Serbia fought wars in the 1990s during the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia.