Serbian water polo stars brawl after semifinal loss

Society Materials 24 August 2008 14:35 (UTC +04:00)

While Serbia on Sunday won the Olympic bronze medal in the men's water polo competition, a brawl amongst team-mates following the semi-final defeat against the US overshadowed Sunday's victory. ( dpa )

Belgrade newspapers say that team captain Aleksandar Sapic and goalkeeper Denis Sefik lunged at each other after the Americans comprehensively dismantled the Serbian team to advance to the finals on Friday.

The fight ended with Sapic tumbling down a flight of stairs and breaking his tibia, the thinner of the two long bones under the knee.

A player of the Russian side Sturm, he will be sidelined at least eight weeks.

A prolific scorer, Sapic, 30, is regarded as one of the world's best active players, but his temperament often got him into trouble, as at the 2003 world championships, when he was banned from the sport for nine months over a brawl with Italian opponents.

Sefik, 31, also a veteran with 95 caps and holder of world and European titles, injured his hand, reports said, quoting sources from the Olympic Village in Beijing. An official statement said Sapic fell, but did not mention the fight.

Sefik participated in Sunday's medal ceremony with a bandaged hand, while Sapic was absent.

In the game, despite the absence of two crucial players, Serbia, which was hoping to go one better than the silver they won in Athens, easily defeated Montenegro to take the third place.

Montenegro, which claimed sovereignty from Belgrade two years ago, this summer won the European championships, the first tournament it took part in as an independent country. In the final it defeated its former sister-republic Serbia.

The medal brought the Serbian tally to three, following Milorad Cavic's 100m butterfly silver and Novak Djokovic's bronze in tennis singles.

Serbia had hoped for a podium finish of the men's volleyball team and possibly a few more from the shooters.