Red Star fans clash with cops in stands ahead of Liverpool match as tensions rise in Champions League

Posted Wednesday, November 07, 2018 by

VIOLENCE has erupted in the stands ahead of Liverpool's away clash at Red Star Belgrade.

Riot police flooded into the home end armed with batons and protective screens as things got out of hand.

Red Star fans clash with cops in stands ahead of Liverpool match as tensions rise in Champions League
Almost an hour before the Champions League game even kicks off and there was pandemonium in the home end

This is even before the Champions League clash has kicked off, with tensions already heightened inside the Rajko Mitic Stadium.

SunSport has reported how Liverpool star Xherdan Shaqiri has been left at home to diffuse concerns he could be targetted.

The Swiss international was booed by visiting supporters during the clubs' game at Anfield following his "Albanian Eagle" celebration at the World Cup.

The 27-year-old along with team-mates Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichtsteiner enraged Serbian fans in Russia with the controversial celebration.

He was fined £7,360 by Fifa for his "unsportsmanlike" behaviour after he netted a dramatic late winner against Mladen Krstajic's side at the World Cup.

Shaqiri - who has Kosovo and Albanian heritage - was booed by Red Star fans every time he touched the ball at Anfield last week.

Kosovo were granted independence in 2008, but Serbia were one of a number of countries that refused to recognise it as a state.

And boss Klopp believed that Shaqiri's presence in the squad in Serbia could have caused a hostile environment.

Speaking to the club's website, he said: "It's a situation where we will go to the fantastic city of Belgrade as a football team to play football.

"We have heard and read the speculation and talk about what kind of reception Shaq would receive and although we have no idea what would happen, we want to go there and be focused 100 per cent on football and not have to think about anything else, that's all.

"We are Liverpool FC, a big club, a football team but we don't have any message further than that. We have no political message, absolutely not. We want the focus to be on a great game of football, free from anything else.

"We are keen to be respectful and keen to avoid any distractions that would take focus away from a 90-minute-plus contest that is important for football and only football.

"So for that reason, Shaq is not involved and he accepts and understands this. Shaq is our player, we love him, and he will play for us a lot of times, but not on Tuesday."

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