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News 30 Oct 17

Serbs Promise Tight Security For Skanderbeu Match

Serbia's Partizan football club has announced tight security measures, and has urged its fans to behave well, ahead of the tense return match with Albania's Skanderbeu team in Belgrade.

Maja Zivanovic
BIRN
Belgrade

Partizan stadium in Belgrade. Photo: Wikimedia/Darwinek

Partizan has announced it will properly secure the November 2 Europa League match against Albania's Skanderbeu in Belgrade – and has asked its fans to refrain from hate speech, anger, and violence.

“Cheer fairly and sportingly, without chauvinistic, fascist, and other incidents, do not chant against opponents on a national basis and have no outburst of anger and hate against the players of the opposing team,” the Serbian team said in a press release on Sunday.

It is said that any such situation, such as cursing or causing other forms of scandal, could lead to serious consequences and sanctions for Partizan by UEFA's Disciplinary Commission.

The statement was issued ahead of the November 2 return match in Belgrade after Partizan and Skanderbeu Korca drew 0:0 in Elbasa, Albania, on October 19. The "historic" football match marked the first time Serbia's Partizan had played in Albania in 30 years.

Serbian media on Saturday recalled that UEFA fined Skanderbeu because its fans sang offensive songs against the Serbs at the game in Elbasan. Ahead of that match, EUFA decided not to allow any Serbian fans to attend.

Both Partizan and Skanderbeu have qualified for the Europa League 2017-2018 championship.

Security measures ahead of the Belgrade match mean that all visitors must have a ticket with their name on it. Those attending the match will have to show their personal documents at the entry point, while all juveniles must be escorted. “A detailed entry-in search is required, so please cooperate with the security officers,” the statement said.

Tension between Serbs and Albanians in the Balkans remains high, especially over the hot issue of the former Serbian province of Kosovo, whose mainly Albanian population declared independence in 2008.

In the now notorious October 2014 match between the Serbia and Albania national teams, a drone flew over the pitch carrying a "Greater Albania" flag, causing chaos both on the pitch and off.

It is expected that strong police forces will be deployed to ensure safety on November 2 match.

“Enjoy the match and support your club,” Partizan said at the end of its press release.

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