The UEFA president, Michel Platini, held meetings with the president of the Republic of Serbia, Boris Tadić, and with the president of the Republic of Croatia, Ivo Josipović, in a special one-day trip on Thursday.
In a customised visit to Belgrade and Zagreb, the UEFA president met with the presidents of the two countries in order to discuss football issues but in particular to stress the importance of the full commitment and backing of the two governments in supporting strong action against football-related violence around matches involving Croatian and Serbian teams.
Speaking after the meetings, Mr Platini said: "Violence in football is a core concern for us that needs to be addressed urgently. I have seen today in my meetings with the heads of state of both Croatia and Serbia that they share our concerns and wishes to commit to finding solutions. We agreed on the need to build a strong plan of concrete measures which require strong leadership and commitment from both governments at all levels.
"I must stress, however, that unless UEFA sees positive and clear signs that concrete measures are being taken within this calendar year, there is the serious risk of suspension for the national and club teams of both associations from UEFA competitions. We must see a clear improvement if not we will not hesitate to take firm action."
UEFA will, in case there is no clear improvement in the situation, exclude all Croatian and Serbian teams from its competitions, meaning both national and club teams, for a long period of time.
Mr Platini highlighted the fact that the violence involving certain sections of supporters at matches is a matter beyond football where the intervention of the states and, in particular, the international collaboration of police forces, is a key factor for success.
Throughout the meetings the main message was that the trouble surrounding matches involving Croatian and Serbian teams must be tackled by the governments in close partnership with the respective football authorities, if the exclusion of Croatian and Serbian national and club teams from international football was to be avoided. The UEFA Executive Committee endorsed this approach of zero tolerance towards the two associations at its latest meeting in January 2011.
The requested action plan should include measures such as the development of an effective system of banning orders, travel bans for troublemakers, the development of protocols for police cooperation and information exchange, and the swift prosecution of troublemakers, with severe penalties imposed if found guilty.
Also under discussion with regard to safety and security was a list of required improvements, which include an integrated approach to policing, security and stewarding, an improved quality of stadium infrastructure and operations, better training for police and stewards, standard use of police spotters and intelligence officers, an efficient database for troublemakers and the empowerment of friendly supporters. UEFA is committed, together with the EU football experts' group and the Council of Europe, to provide consultation and support in respect of the required action plan.
Together with the various European agencies involved, UEFA will closely monitor the effective implementation of the required plan of action, and the UEFA Executive Committee will be consulted for further consideration of the matter in one year, or earlier if necessary.
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