- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 13, 2010

GENOA, ITALY (AP) - Police have detained 17 people including the alleged ringleader of a riot at a soccer match between Italy and Serbia that was called off when Serbia fans threw flares and fireworks onto the field, burned a flag and broke barriers.

Police found the alleged instigator of the riot in the trunk of a bus that was due to take the Serbian fans home from the European Championships qualifier. While his face was covered by a mask during the violence, police identified him by his tattooed arms, according to the ANSA news agency.

Police could not immediately be reached for confirmation Wednesday.

The match was called off after just seven minutes, but violent clashes continued through the night. Sixteen people, including two policemen, were injured, according to ANSA.

Serbian police said that they will “take measures” against the rioters, adding that they are aware of their identities and that they will be “prosecuted” in Serbia.

Tomislav Karadzic, head of Serbia’s soccer association, said on his return to Belgrade that he believes the rioting was premeditated and apparently organized from Belgrade. He said that “these guys did not go there by themselves.”

The association said it will meet to discuss the incident as it braces itself for tough sanctions that are likely to follow.

UEFA is waiting to receive official reports from its delegate in Genoa, David Petriashvili of Georgia, and match referee Craig Thomson from Scotland before opening an investigation.

In 2007, UEFA’s control and disciplinary body, which is next scheduled to meet on Oct. 28, awarded Sweden a 3-0 default win over Denmark in a similar case.

Serbia could also face further sanctions, with some Italian media calling for the nation to be expelled from the European Championship.



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