Davor Suker seeks respect for Serbia’s anthem

CROATIAN Football Association president Davor Suker has asked his country’s fans not to jeer Serbia’s national anthem when the two bitter Balkan rivals meet in a World Cup qualifier in Zagreb on 22 March.

“We will be treated the same way in Belgrade as the way they are treated here and I wish I had a magic wand to make sure that Serbia’s national anthem is not jeered,” the former Real Madrid striker said. “Serbia’s Football Association chief Tomislav Karadzic and general secretary Zoran Lakovic are my friends, we are on the same mission of crushing hooliganism in our two countries and a sportsmanlike atmosphere in our two qualifiers would be very welcome.”

The comments by Suker, who won the 1998 Champions League with Real and reached the World Cup semi-finals with Croatia the same year, came on the back of efforts by Serbia coach Sinisa Mihajlovic to defuse tension ahead of the potentially explosive Group A clash.

Having included applauding the opposition’s national anthem in the Serbian players’ code of conduct when he took over in May, Mihajlovic said last month the bitter memories of Balkan conflicts that tore apart the former Yugoslavia should take a back seat to football.