Police in the southern coastal city of Split has arrested three young men on suspicion of attacking three Serbian water polo players on the city's waterfront promenade on Saturday. Two attackers are still on the run, local police said on Sunday morning.
The police said that a club jersey that had been taken from one of the players had been found with one of the men that were brought in on Sunday morning.
The three players are members of Belgrade’s Red Star Water Polo Club who had arrived in Split for a game against the local side Mornar BS, which was scheduled for 8.30pm on Saturday. The match was cancelled because of the incident.
The three players were sitting in a cafe on the Riva promenade early on Saturday afternoon when they were approached by five youths who objected to their wearing their club jerseys. The youths first demanded that they take them off and then attacked them. Two of the players, aged 25 and 26, were hit in the back but managed to run away, while a third escaped by jumping into the sea.
Police soon arrived at the scene; the 29-year-old man was pulled from the sea and taken to the hotel where the Belgrade team were staying. He was later taken to a hospital where he was found to have suffered slight injuries to the head, temple and nose.
Croatian government strongly condemns the attack
The Croatian government strongly condemns this attack by hooligans, and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has discussed the incident with Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic and Split Mayor Andro Krstulovic Opara, government spokesman Marko Milic told Hina.
The attack was earlier condemned by the Croatian Water Polo Federation, the Croatian Olympic Committee and many athletes and politicians.
Serbian government announces protest note
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told the RTS public broadcaster on Saturday evening that his ministry would present a protest note to Croatia over the attack in Split.
He said that the incident was the result of a ongoing chauvinist anti-Serbian campaign in Croatia, adding that Belgrade would formally demand that the perpetrators be brought to justice.
The Serbian Water Polo Federation and the Red Star Water Polo Club have announced that they will seek increased security measures for their clubs and national water polo team during Euro Cup matches in Croatia.