Partizan’s ‘gravediggers’ to boycott eternal derby, but Red Star boss says change ref or they won’t play

September 26 – The ultras of Serbia’s Partizan Belgrade have said they will boycott the derby clash against Red Star Belgrade. The match, billed as ‘Serbia’s eternal derby’, is to be played tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Partizan Stadium in Belgrade.

The fans, known by their nickname ‘the gravediggers’, are in conflict with the club’s general director Miloš Vazura, who they are demanding should leave the club immediately.

“The Derby is on Wednesday. But without us! It is not an easy decision to deny support to the players in one of the most important games of the season, but our fight must continue. The people who run the club do not deserve an iota of compromise,” said a fan statement.

“The situation is very simple, it is necessary for Miloš Vazura to resign and we return to the JNA (Partizan Stadium) at the same second. As long as the situation in the club is as it is, as long as the first man of the club and his profit is more important than all of us, this painful situation for our players will last. Anyone who thinks that that day must be with the club should do so, but from the east and the west stands. The south stand must be empty and we ask that this decision be respected! Good luck, Partizan,” said the announcement.

Partizan is in second place in the league, four points ahead of third-placed Red Star.

Partizan fans aren’t the only group with an issue before this fixture.

Red Star Belgrade president Svetozar Mijailović has expressed his disappointment at the appointment of Srđan Jovanović as the match referee and threatened that if the Football Union of Serbia does not change its mind and change the appointment, then Red Star will not play.

“We are unpleasantly surprised by the announcement that referee Srđan Jovanović will be delegated as the referee of the 171st eternal derby between FC Partizan and FC Crvena Zvezda, which is scheduled for Wednesday, September 27. During the previous nine years, the only referee for whom Crvena zvezda requested an exemption from refereeing our club was Jovanovic,” said Mijailović.

“He is a confirmed fan of FC Partizan, his family worked for FC Partizan and he, in accordance with that antagonism towards Crvena Zvezda, refereed all matches involving our club. Due to all of the above, in 2019 we officially requested from the FSS that Jovanović never referee our club’s matches again. We never asked for that for any other referee, only for him. And FSS delegated him for the upcoming derby.”

Mijailović added that the choice of Jovanović represents the continuation of an organised campaign against FK Crvena zvezda by FSS general secretary Jovan Šurbatović and the president of the refereeing commission Dejan Filipović.

“I want to inform the management of the FSS and our public that the position of our management and my personal position is that we do not accept to play an eternal derby unless the decision on the delegation of Judge Jovanović is changed. We do not want to influence the leadership of the FSS with our wishes, who would we like to referee, let anyone judge, but not Jovanović,” added Mijailović.

Contact the writer of this story, Aleksander Krassimirov, at moc.l1716659178labto1716659178ofdlr1716659178owedi1716659178sni@o1716659178fni1716659178