Almost two months after their last game together was marred by violence outside the arena, Euroleague Basketball has worked closely with Red Star and Galatasaray to assure that safety and respect are of the highest priority in Belgrade on Friday.
Red Star fan Marko Ivkovic was fatally stabbed on his way to their last encounter in Istanbul in December, and since then both clubs have cooperated with Euroleague Basketball’s efforts to honour his memory by promoting good sportsmanship among their teams and supporters.
Among several measures taken by the clubs this week, players from both teams gave interviews in which they emphasized the need to respect opposing teams and their fans.
“The best way to pay tribute to Marko is for all of us together, players and fans, to do everything we can so those scenes do not happen again,” Red Star captain Luka Mitrovic said.
“And work together against violence and against all those who come to sports contests to harm others and negate the real reasons basketball and sports are played: enjoyment of the game and competition with our rivals.”
“I want to condemn the incident because sport shouldn’t contain such things,” Galatasaray’s Sinan Gular said.
“I wish it hadn’t happened and Marko could continue to watch basketball games.I also want to send condolences to his family and friends. Sport is competitive in its nature but there is no place for violence. In order to sustain this competition, sports should be separate from violence.”