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Fans paid 200,000 euros to disrupt match in Italy: report

sports Updated: Oct 16, 2010 15:52 IST

Two fugitive chiefs of criminal gangs paid more than 200,000 euros to football fans whose rioting forced the cancellation of Serbia's Euro 2012 qualifying match against Italy earlier this week, a daily newspaper reported on Saturday.

"More than 200,000 euros had been paid to more than 60 hooligans for organisation, trip, getting equipment and rioting due to which the match in Genoa was not played," the pro-government Politika daily said, quoting a source close to the probe.

According to the report, police are following a lead that the riots were ordered by two chiefs of separate criminal gangs -- a cocaine dealer suspected also of money laundering and one believed to head a criminal organisation linked to a number of murders, robberies and violence.

It was likely that the two, "despite being in a financial dispute with each other, financed the riots because both have interests to create chaos in the state" of Serbia, the source, who asked not to be named, told Politika.

Police have also been checking a lead that people dissatisfied with the situation in the Serbian Football Federation had been behind the riots, but the source said this was a less likely scenario.

The match in Genoa was stopped on Tuesday after just six minutes due to Serbian fans throwing flares onto the pitch and at rival Italy supporters.

Police in Italy made 17 arrests and 16 people were hospitalised after the clashes in Genoa. The injured included two policemen.

Serbian police have detained 35 football fans on their way back from Genoa in northern Italy.

The Interior Minister Ivica Dacic promised a thorough police probe into the incidents.

Serbia has stepped up the fight against organised crime in a bid to meet conditions for membership in the European Union.