Spanish Player Sorry For Tearing Serbian Flag

09 Sep 15
Spanish Player Sorry For Tearing Serbian Flag

A video showing Spain’s Nikola Mirotic tearing up the Serbian national flag after his team lost to Italy in the European basketball championship has started a debate over his motives, in spite of the fact that has has apologised.

Igor Jovanovic

Mirotic tearing up Serbian flag | Source: YouTube printscreen

Nikola Mirotic, a member of the Spanish basketball team from Montenegro, has apologised for tearing up the Serbian national flag on Tuesday, angry after his team lost an important game to Italy.

The video shows Mirotic entering the tunnel after the game while fans waved a Serbian flag in front of his face.

The player tore up the flag and continued on his way to the locker room.

Mirotic’s act has fuelled a debate in Serbia over whether the player did this as an act of revenge because Serbian fans had insulted him during the game with Spain.

After Serbian and Spanish teams met on September 5, Serbia won the game. Media in Serbia reported that some supporters insulted the player who was born in Podgorica accusing him of betraying his origins by playing for Spain.

Mirotic on Wednesday said he was sorry, however, and said he had not been aware that he was tearing apart the Serbian flag.

“I deeply regret my reaction after the game. I did not realize it was a Serbian flag. I stared at the floor due to tensions in the game and felt something on my face. I would never offend any symbol,” Mirotic wrote on Twitter.

The Serbian basketball association condemned the player’s act but stated that it accepted the claim that Mirotic had not been aware of what he was doing.

“Tearing up the Serbian flag is an unacceptable act, regardless of who did it and in what situation. However, based on the video of the event, we believe Mirotic did not see it was a Serbian flag and was not aware of what he was doing,” the basketball assotiation stated.

On social networks in Serbia, most people condemned Mirotic, saying there was no excuse for his act, which some commentators called hypocritical, as fans often support foreign national flags being burned or torn up during sporting or political events.

Several such incidents happened in the region last year.

The football match between Serbia and Albania was called off after a drone with a banner embossed with Albanian motifs flew over the pitch, after which Serbian fans invaded the pitch.

Croatia in July was given a one-point deduction in the Euro 2016 tournament qualifiers after a swastika was placed on the pitch at a qualifying match in Split.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)