Austria face Bosnia and Herzegovina in an away match on Tuesday evening, and two of the travelling team are expected to get a heated reception from the home crowd.
West Ham’s Marko Arnautovic and Bayer Leverkusen’s Aleksandar Dragovic are expected to receive abuse, report Austria’s Spox, because of their Serbian roots.
It’s not an especially unusual situation and the tense relationships between countries involved in the Balkans war have repeatedly shown themselves in football.
Given that so many people were forced to flee the country, and many had emigrated earlier anyway, it brings in other national teams of the country’s their families moved to. That’s been the case for Switzerland and Austria.
Arnautovic, who will captain Austria for the match in Zenica, was asked about the frosty reception which has been predicted for him, and the West Ham player spoke very well about the situation.
Spox quote him as saying: “You have to switch that off and concentrate on the game, I have my tasks to fulfil.
“But personally, I have no hatred for Bosnia, as well as for Croatia and the whole Slavic countries.
“Of course all the countries still believe that we are in some kind of war, but for me it does not exist anymore, I respect every country and wish you all the best, we do not need to talk about war anymore.”
Hopefully those words will have made it through to the Bosnia fans and the West Ham player will get the respect and good feeling returned.