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Saturday, 10 November 2007


Stadium: Koševo - Sarajevo

Time and date: February 25, 2006 - Saturday, 13:30

“Go to Sjever. The fans are found in Istok (east) and Sjever (north) part of the stadium, but the real boys are in Sjever”. After last nights experience in a pub with him, I had learned to take into consideration of Sanjin’s advices, the receptionist of the Hostel Ljubicica. After a simple breakfast in a buregdzinica (pie house) in Baščaršija I began to have a walk towards stadium via Mula Mustafa Bašeskije Street. Since a long time, those sequences had been the only ones when I have got the opportunity to feel like a “tourist”. I never have enough time in abroad cities. I usually have my touristic experiences when I am running from one place to another. The first thing that takes my attention in Sarajevo is bullet holes on the buildings. I try to “see” the buildings instead of remains of the war, twelve years after the war, I try to see the Sarajevans who try to enjoy daily life. Anyhow, it is a bit difficult. In fact, just after a ten minutes walk I pass next to the marketplace where 63 Sarajevans were murdered with a shell. My heart is squeezed. The three-storey building of Turkish Culture Center had surprised me with its modern and nice looking. I would not expect such a thing from our guys. I went on walking straight ahead on the street while checking it from the city plan I have in my hands. And I arrived to an alley: Marshall Tito. Just at the beginning of the alley is the “Vječna Vatra” – literally means “Eternal Fire”- the monument dedicated to Partizans. You can see Roma children around this fire in winter evenings. Following the Tito Alley, just before turning right to the Koševo Street I saw a billboard. Another “Vatra” but this is “Anadolska Vatra”, the “Anatolian Fire”, which is a dance group from Turkey, similar to that of “River Dance”. I thought about watching their performance in Sarajevo that night until I learned that the tickets were already sold out last week.

Since I am on Koševo Street, I began to follow the football fans to find my way to the stadium. Being close to the stadium, I am passing next to a graveyard, which was a training pitch before the war. Since it was apart from artillery range, Sarajevans had buried their martyrs to here. Bosnian Muslims, Serbs and Croats, all Sarajevans are here who were murdered during the war. Walking towards a slight sloppy street, after 15 minutes I reached the pre-fabrique ticket sales office and bought my ticket for “Sjever” which costs 3 KM (Kovertible Marke – 1 Euro=1,95 KM). There are some “čevapčići” (Bosnian grill) chapmen around. Of course I do not eat them. Surely not because of hygienic considerations, but to have some empty space in my stomach to try more Bosnian pies.

I go to the “curve” of the stadium on the northern side. I am looking forward to have a sort of communication with the fans. Suddenly, a boy who has got a scarf with Turkish flag on takes my attention. Unfortunately, he does only speak Bosnian language. But, some boys who can speak English help me and take me to their leaders, known as “Mai” whose fore teeth are damaged and have some scarves on his face. In fact, for me he is a cute guy. One of the boys introduces me as an anthropologist who is making a research on Sarajevo football fans. He is not interested at all. He asks something, and the boy replies “Turska”, which causes a dramatical change of Mai’s behavior towards me positively. So, lesson 1: Before you introduce yourself as an anthropologist, better to tell people that you are from Turkey.

The fan group of Sarajevo, namely “Horda Zla” (the horde of evils) was established in 1987. They are renown as being active in the trenches during the war. But –as usual- their ex-leaders Dzilda and Tselo became mafiosi after the war. Those fanatics, who were appreciated by the Sarajevans during the war had retained to their old status as “troublemakers” after the war. I had already added my article about football fans in Bosnian to my blog that was previously published in “Four Four Two”. If you wish, you can check it from the archive.

Sjever is quite fascinating with flambeau and scarf shows, with banners and poetic chants... Although I cannot understand the lyrics, obviously they are poetic. Most of the fans are warm to me. I exchange my “Alkaralar” scarf with Miki’s “Sarajevo” scarf. Miki –or Mirać, 17 years old- is one of the potential leaders of Horda Zla. His hair is dyed in blonde and he has got earrings. Son of a martyr. He is a hard fan. He was in Istanbul for the match against Beşiktaş. He admits that he brought a Turkish flag that is on the wall of his room. He is one of those who were in Belgrade in well-known match between Serbia and Bosnia.

Just after the Sarajevo – Slavija football match, there is a basketball match between KK Bosna and Partizan in Skenderija Sport Complex. The fans invite me there.

Just a few notes about rival team: Honestly, I did not have information about Slavija. I would not assume that Slavija would involve in my “football life” in Bosnia. Slavija is a team from Republika Srpska (One of the two autonomous republics in Bosnia and Herzegovina). The fan group of Slavija is “Sokolovi” (The Falcons). There were 39 of them in the match in Koševo. They use Cyrillic alphabet in their banners.

The match was quite boring and the result was 1-1. In fact, Sarajevo is the leader in Bosnian Premier League and Slavija had been one of the successful teams. After the match, I walk towards Skenderija with Horda Zla. Entrance is free for the Horda Zla, from which I benefit as well. The famous team KK Bosna will play against Partizan from Belgrade. I do not know the details very well but they play in a sort of basketball league that consists of teams from ex-Yugoslav countries. Without doubt, it takes more attention than Sarajevo-Slavija match. Senad, one of the leaders of Horda Zla shows me good place to sit and advises me to not to leave there. Match was quite exciting with KK Bosna’s victory. A few Turkish flags take my attention in the hall. I learned that when playing against Bosnian Serb teams, etc. Bosnian fans are likely to bring Turkish flag to make the rival team upset.

After the basketball match, I had a coffee with two fans in Cafe Kolobara, which was previously a caravanserai built by Ottomans.

For visuals about Slavija-Sarajevo match:

A visual from KK Bosna - Partizan basketball match:


Daniel (Srebrenica Genocide Blog Editor) said...

Quote: "Bosnian Muslims, Serbs and Croats"

No. You are wrong. It's "BOSNIAKS, Serbs, and Croats". If you are talking about Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians, then yeah, you can add Bosnian Muslims to it. But when you talk about Serbs and Croats, we are Bosniaks.

We are not religious group; we are ethnic group just like Serbs and Croats are.

Dirim said...

Editors addition:

Although constitutionally Bosniaks are recognized as one of the establisher nationalities of BiH, personally in my academic and unacademic articles I prefer to use "Bosnian" not to legitimize the seperatist nationalist discourse which ignores the almost thousand years old unity of Bosnia under the title of being "BOSNIANS".

Personally, I deal issue from a more spatial oriented rather than falling in the same line with ultra nationalist who had divided BiH into two entities, and 10 cantons.

And there are considerable number of Bosnians who think like this especially those who had the practice of "living together peacefully" before the war and enforcement of nationalist discouse.

Thank you for your contributions,

Özgür Dirim Özkan

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