Why was Manchester United-Atletico referee Slavko Vincic arrested?
The Slovenian referee, who took charge at Old Trafford, was released without charge after a police operation against a prostitution, drugs and firearms ring.
Slavko Vincic took charge of the Champions League match between Manchester United and Atlético Madrid on Tuesday night and it was not 90 minutes free of controversy, something that has been following the Slovenian official on and off the pitch since his arrest in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2020 on suspicion of being linked to a prostitution, drug and illegal firearms racket, allegations that were subsequently dropped by investigators.
Vincic is a Champions League and FIFA international-listed referee who has overseen games at the European Championship – most recently the Euro 2020 quarter-final between Belgium and Italy – and over 30 matches in European club competition. At Old Trafford, Ralf Rangnick was critical of Vincic’s performance, stating the referee had made some “curious decisions.” The match official was certainly light on cards during Atlético’s 1-0 victory, which saw some robust tackles being out in by both sides, but he did correctly rule João Félix’s first-half effort out for offside. Rangnick suggested there had been a foul in the build-up to the eventual winner, scored by Renan Lodi, but suggested Vincic “did not see it that way.”
“In the second half I don’t know if there were two minutes without an Atlético player on the floor,” complained the Manchester United boos after the game.
Vincic arrested but no charges pressed
Vincic emerged to prominence off the pitch in 2020 when he was detained in a cabin in Bijeljina where the authorities discovered nine women, 26 men and a cache of cocaine and weapons, including 10 sidearms and bullet-proof vests.
Croatian daily 24Sata reported at the time that Vincic had been arrested alongside Tijana Maksimovic, who police believe was the ringleader of the prostitution ring. Maksimovic was detained while attempting to cross the border with Croatia in a boat that was also carrying three women.
Vincic was not accused of being directly involved in the illegal operation and was later released without charge after being questioned by police. The referee explained that he had been at the cabin after being invited to lunch, an offer he acknowledged he should never have accepted. The Slovenian Football Federation backed Vincic after the incident and he was cleared of all suspected links to Maksimovic and the trafficking ring.