Jan 05 2012

Fortuna Indoor Tournament Cancelled

No doubt most football fans in the Czech and Slovak Republics will know that the annual indoor tournament, Fortuna Víkend Šampionov, due to be held in Bratislava this Sunday, has been cancelled at the request of the mayor of  Nové Mesto, the district of the city where Štadión Ondreja Nepelu, the venue for the championship, is located. Rudolf Kusý says that his priority is the safety of people and their property and that UFA Slovakia, the tournament organisers, had failed to put in place certain conditions which would have guaranteed this.

The tournament, held in Prague in previous years, was to involve Slovak clubs Slovan Bratislava, Spartak Trnava and MŠK Žilina along with three sides from the Czech capital in Sparta, Slavia and Bohemians. In truth, sensible people were raising eyebrows at such a guest-list from the very start. Trnava fans caused serious disorder at matches in the Tipsport League, another supposedly ‘friendly’ cross-border tournament, last January and the club‘s bitter rivalry with Slovan, as well as the fact that Žilina fans were involved in trouble at their team’s Corgoň Liga match at Trnava in November, never augured well.

The organisers are accused of breaking a law which states that standing tickets must not be sold for an event deemed a ‘security risk’ at which more than 5,000 spectators are expected to be present. In fact, 7,200 tickets had already been sold, including for standing areas of the stadium. Furthermore, according to the head of the Bratislava police, Trnava themselves had already sold over 1,200 tickets, including an estimated 200 to people believed to represent a particular risk. The police also say they had been monitoring internet discussions between Trnava and Slovan fans and felt these gave rise to the belief that fights were being planned to take place in the city on the day of the tournament.

Kusý and the police maintain too that other aspects of tournament preparation were inadequate. They say that properly segregated areas for fans of each of the six competing sides had not been provided for and that, despite warnings of potential public order problems in and around the venue, the numbers of stewards and other security staff had not been increased.

Technically, the organisers could appeal against Kusý’s decision but, with just three days to go before the tournament was due to take place and tomorrow a public holiday in Slovakia, such a prospect would appear remote.

Reaction from the competing clubs is varied.  Sparta’s Head of Communication, Ondřej Kasík, says that his biggest priority is ensuring that all the club’s fans who were planning to travel are properly informed of what is to happen. Slovan are concerned by the fact that those players selected for the tournament were due to report for training duty tomorrow, four days before the rest of the squad. Presumably, the entire squad will not now start their pre-season preparations until next week. Pavel Hoftych, Trnava’s coach is sanguine, saying that he understands the security concerns and that the cancellation won’t disrupt his team’s training plan too much. The angriest reaction comes from Žilina, where Director of Football Karol Belaník talks of  ‘another national embarrassment’. Those who recall the fiasco of the cancelled Deaf Winter Olympics, due to be held in Slovakia last year, will know what Belaník means.

If I can be allowed a personal opinion, I’m with Kusý and the police on this. There might have been mistakes in the process by which they reached their decision but the decision itself, given the evidence we have and without anything resembling a satisfactory response from the organisers, looks like a sensible one – far more sensible than the idea of bringing Slovan, Trnava, Žilina and others together for a ‘friendly’ tournament without seriously attempting to make it difficult for the undesirables amongst their followings to be present.   

James Baxter

24 responses so far




24 Responses to “Fortuna Indoor Tournament Cancelled”

  1.   britskibelasion 05 Jan 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Personally, I’m also not surprised that this has happened, and prefer to be talking about the cancellation of the tournament in advance, rather than as a result of running battles, firework & seat hurling inside what is by far Bratislava’s most civilised sporting venue.

    For that reason I also don’t blame the police and mayor for their decision, it was clear from the offset (especially when it was announced that Trnava were involved) that extreme security would be required inside the stadium, starting with proper segregation of fans and control of ticket sales. If none of these issues have been addressed by the organisers then no-one would have a leg to stand on if something serious happened inside the arena.

    It is extremely depressing that even in this modern high-tech expensive arena we cannot host a friendly sporting event for issues of security.

    We have discussed disturbances involving Trnava fans at length, but it is also obvious to anyone who follows sport in this country that bringing Trnava into the mix will massively increase interest amongst potential troublemakers from Slovan, Zilina or anywhere else. Who knows – Brno, Ostrava – this could really have turned messy.

    I phrased a tweet in mid-November somewhat lightly:

    “Slovan v Trnava in an indoor arena – could be interesting”

    Now I wish I’d have said more on the issue. To me it was an extremely high-risk decision to invite Trnava to this tournament, and the only way you’re going to avoid all kinds of questions in the very likely case of trouble occuring was if you’d done everything to address the issue of security. It is a sporting and commercial decision offset against the cost of the security and the risk involved. Whoever took that decision apparently didn’t consider any of the important issues and the result is another embarrassment and disappointment for football fans in Slovakia.

  2.   Bruckion 05 Jan 2012 at 4:26 pm

    I wanted to travel to Bratislava on Sunday and was looking forward to this tournament. I thought noone would launch such an event without knowing about the clubs and its fans. I thought that the security issue would have been solved already by organizers and police for sure otherwise such an event would never have been planned and advertised. I was wrong and that’s sad.

  3.   Jameson 05 Jan 2012 at 4:36 pm

    The word ‘mix’ is the right one there. Slovan, Zilina and Sparta have nutters among their followings but their fans have just about co’existed in peace at this thing before. The Trnava-Slovan thing (especially) would have added – as you say- a whole new, sinister element. The head of the Bratislava police, if not the mayor (who has to play politics), has quite openly said this. I haven’t gone through the history of this tournament but would I be right in thinking that Czech organisers never invited Banik Ostrava when it was held in Prague?

    More generally, the organisers’ whole attitude as it comes across so far seems to have been ‘there are all these rules and regulations but, hey, let’s just try to ignore as many as possible and hope we get away with it.’ It’s a mentality I come across all too often in my job, it’s a cancer on Slovak society as a whole, not just football, and is utterly contemptible.

  4.   Jameson 05 Jan 2012 at 5:04 pm

    ‘I thought that the security issue would have been solved already by organizers and police for sure otherwise such an event would never have been planned and advertised.’

    Too right you would but when you think of what happened last year with the Deaf Winter Olympic Games – due to be held in the Tatras but cancelled at the last minute because of fraud and embezzlement by the head of the organising committee – the whole thing becomes less of a surprise.

  5.   Jameson 05 Jan 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Can I amend the above to ‘suspected fraud and embezzlement’? The case is still going through the courts.

  6.   Iain Pragueon 06 Jan 2012 at 3:47 am

    Well I’m in agreement with you guys – it’s probably for the best that this was called off. As it happens, I wasn’t planning to go anyway.

    The question that occurs, though, is: why wasn’t this nipped in the bud from the very start? Not forgetting Slavia and Bohemians 1905, whose participation in the event wouldn’t exactly have helped to defuse the tension (notwithstanding the presence of ex-1905 coach Pavel Hoftych). I mean, did the authorities only find out about the guest-list a couple of days ago…?

  7.   George Mon 06 Jan 2012 at 6:19 am

    Bit lost here , but is it only spastics, cretins, nutters and skin headed thugs that actually go and watch live Slovak or Czech football ? The police know who these troublesome in a herd guys are, so in a crowd of 6000 , dont let them in at the start !

    When I was a lad , I went to see the Evening News London five a sides, this was a friendly family affair, where women, grandads and kids had a great evening, whatever club you supported .

  8.   StaryJazvecon 06 Jan 2012 at 4:56 pm

    “despite warnings of potential public order problems in and around the venue, the numbers of stewards and other security staff had not been increased.”

    How many pensioners do you reckon would have been needed to sort out Trnava and Slovan ultras?

  9.   StaryJazvecon 06 Jan 2012 at 5:11 pm

    “The police also say they had been monitoring internet discussions between Trnava and Slovan fans and felt these gave rise to the belief that fights were being planned to take place in the city on the day of the tournament.”

    Guess the police will have to cancel all future Slovan – Trnava games as well then.

    People who have been to the stadium. In your opinion would it have been possible to segregate 2 sets of hooligans here? If not, then the police are to blame for not saying no at the outset.

  10.   StaryJazvecon 06 Jan 2012 at 5:23 pm

    “Furthermore, according to the head of the Bratislava police, Trnava themselves had already sold over 1,200 tickets, including an estimated 200 to people believed to represent a particular risk.”

    How did the police know that 200 Trnava hooligans were coming?

  11.   StaryJazvecon 06 Jan 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Or rather, their estimate is based on what exactly? Do they all sign up on line somewhere?

  12.   StaryJazvecon 06 Jan 2012 at 5:39 pm

    I seem to have a lot to say about this. So, in summary. Everybody was hoping it was just going to be nice fans coming as it’s only an indoor touri. Then a few days b4 someone from the police goes on-line, finds out the nutters are coming and pulls the plug.

    Hanba, blamáž, fiasko, Kocúrkovo, Banánová republika…

  13.   britskibelasion 06 Jan 2012 at 5:57 pm

    It would be almost impossible to segregate sets of fans inside this arena. There is a sector designated for away fans for ice-hockey matches but there are no actual barriers around it, as far as I could see.

    Basically the tournament has been a success in Prague based on fans of each club occupying their own area of the arena with neutrals inbetween. This worked because the clubs who were originally invited to the tournament apparently have no particular beef with each other. That and obviously some kind of system to root out potential trouble-makers. Again, I refer to my point that this has happened as a result of inviting Trnava to the tournament. At least Zilina fans had the common sense to spread the word amongst themselves that they would take sector B8.

    As far as the police are concerned, they certainly could have been more pro-active in the matter. For example advising the organisers something along the lines of:

    “hey, this is the first time we’re hosting this event in Bratislava, so in order to make it a success, let’s stick to the tried and tested format from Prague and monitor security with a view to potentially inviting other clubs in the future”

    but no, they did the totally destructive opposite, and left it really late to advise the mayor that this could end in trouble.

    As for the online stuff – I also heard stories that fights were being planned at Tehelne Pole on the pitch. If people are serious enough about that, it will probably still happen anyway!
    I also read that the Slovan ultras are now heading off to some kind of kids tournament on the Saturday where they will unveil whatever choreography was planned for the Fortuna weekend.

    Indeed, something of a fiasco …

  14.   Jameson 06 Jan 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Jazvec,

    ‘How many pensioners do you reckon would have been needed to sort out Trnava and Slovan ultras?’

    It’s also possible to draft in a few ‘private security heavies’. I’m not only talking about people in orange bibs.

    ‘Guess the police will have to cancel all future Slovan – Trnava games as well then.’

    There’s a difference between scheduled matches in designated football stadiums between just two teams and an invitational tournament involving six clubs in a hockey stadium.

    ‘How did the police know that 200 Trnava hooligans were coming?’

    I was quoting from Sport. You may have read the same article. One thought that occurs to me is that at least 20% of Trnava’s regular away suuport are nutters – I’ve witnessed their antics enough times in Za – so 200 out of 1,200 is, if anything, a conservative estimate. I don’t know if you had to register when buying tickets for this tournament. If so, guess there’s your answer. If not, monitoring who’s bought them is surely not that difficult.

    ‘Then a few days b4 someone from the police goes on-line, finds out the nutters are coming and pulls the plug.’

    That’s not the whole story. It’s the organiser’s job to ensure the venue is secure, have enough staff on duty etc and they were given conditions in this regard which they failed to fulfil. That plus the police monitoring is what’s led to the cancellation. I guess the police and mayor should have been giving warnings at an earlier stage – which is why I’d agree that the way the decision was made wasn’t right – but the people most responsible for this fiasco are the organisers.

    Dan is right that they should have modelled the whole thing on Prague. Another way to ensure a friendly atmosphere might have been to invite (say) Dubnica, Zlate Moravce and Petrzalka and three similar Cz clubs – leaving Slovan, Zilina and Trnava out of it altogether. But then there’d have been no money in it.

  15.   britskibelasion 06 Jan 2012 at 8:23 pm

    I saw a comment that Ruzomberok or Kosice could have been invited – both having been Champions of Slovakia. Same could of course apply to Petrzalka, but have they got enough players available?!

    I would have brought the 3 teams from Prague, left Slovan & Zilina in there and looked at inviting 1 other Corgon Liga club to make a round 6 – that’s obviously what the organisers were thinking – they just picked the wrong Corgon Liga club!

  16.   Iain Pragueon 07 Jan 2012 at 3:13 am

    Hmm, I was under the impression that this would basically be a carbon copy of the Prague events (same sponsor, format etc.), just taking place in B’lava. For some reason I’d also thought that Trnava had been invited in previous years – that said, I’ve never actually been to one and don’t follow it so closely that I could say for sure.

    Probably would’ve been better all-round if Liberec could’ve been invited to defend their title in place of any one of the other teams. Oh well, I suppose it’s ‘divácky zajímavější’ when the usual suspects are there…

  17.   britskibelasion 07 Jan 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Indoor tournament in Hamburg cancelled on Day 1 after VfB Lubeck fans fight with FC St Pauli inside the arena:

    youtu.be/hDaaJNm7mF8

  18.   Jameson 08 Jan 2012 at 12:49 pm

    If the radical pacifists of the Reeperbahn* can cause such trouble, you do indeed dread to think what the raging mob from Trnava might have done at the Fortuna.

    * Irony very much intended there. Recall that St Pauli had a game abandoned last season, around the same time as Zilina-Slovan and for similar reasons.

  19.   George Mon 08 Jan 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Just to move off topic ..

    Wait for it …ohahahahahahahahahahah !

    Marek Hamsik’s agent has revealed the Napoli midfielder would be interested in a transfer to Chelsea, oh and Man City .
    Nothing to do with wishful thinking of bank accounts of course :-)

    Full story: Metro

    http://www.metro.co.uk/sport/football/886700-marek-hamsiks-agent-encourages-chelsea-to-make-transfer-bid#ixzz1inSTjmAq

  20.   Jameson 11 Jan 2012 at 9:51 am

    Also off topic. Feature on Skrtel in the Guardian :

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/jan/10/liverpool-martin-skrtel-carling-cup

  21.   George Mon 11 Jan 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Calm down , Calm down . Of Course he was always going to be accepted , like all Scouser men, ….God made him as ugly as he could, then hit him in the face with a shovel …..

    All he needs to do now is have the fizzy perm, or the Mullet , or the Peter Beardsley three stooges cut and addopt the Jan Molby Dutch – Liverpudlian accent .

  22.   George Mon 13 Jan 2012 at 10:12 am

    Does anyone know if Guédé was exported thus far, as per my prediction 22nd Dec ? My newspaper said he was was perhaps off to Freinburg ?

  23.   britskibelasion 13 Jan 2012 at 10:27 am

    George, I don’t think it’s officially a done deal yet, it seems likely, but the news-trail has gone quiet the last couple of days. Apparently he started training at Freiburg without Slovan’s permission. That seems to me like a really stupid thing to do, but maybe that’s just Slovan’s side of the story.

    Doesn’t help that I’m at sea at the moment. Maybe one of the others has heard something new?

  24.   George Mon 13 Jan 2012 at 11:43 am

    Good for him, and I can hardly blame him as if he moved his body, I guess his legs went with him. Perhaps Weiss had not had his bung envelope yet to distribute and that is why Club Slovan are getting all shitty ?

    Is being at sea part of the day job, then ? Not hard to take the leap of faith and imagine you bobbin up and down in the Ocean with a flashin light attached to your head ?

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