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News 24 Oct 14

Albania, Serbia Appeal Against UEFA Ruling

Both Albania and Serbia are to appeal against the EUEFA ruling on the abandoned Euro 2016 qualifier in Belgrade, which each side has condemned as unjust.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana

 

Ivan Bogdanov, left, jailed over a disruption of an Euro 2012 qualifier in Genoa, Italy in 2010, and others invade the pitch during the Euro 2016 Group I qualifying match between Serbia and Albania at the Partizan stadium in Belgrade, Serbia, Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. Photo by : AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic

Albanian leaders and football players reacted angrily to the the ruling of UEFA's Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body, which declared Serbia had won the abandoned Euro 2016 qualifier match with Albania by 3:0.

UEFA held the Albanian team to blame for refusing to continue to play, following a spate of violent incidents.

The football body will detract three points from Serbia for allowing fans to invade the pitch. Serbia will also play the next two matches without the presence of fans. UEFA also fined the two football federations 100,000 euro each over the incident.

Albania’s Footbal Federation, FShF, described the ruling as unfair and announced that it would appeal.   

Edi Rama, Albania's Prime Minister, has supported the appeal. “UEFA did not deliver justice,” Rama said.  “I am disappointed at this ruling, which does not deliver justice,” Gianni De Biasi, the coach of the Albanian national team, agreed.

Bekim Balaj, an Albanian player who was hit by a piece of the stalls by a Serbian hooligan who ran onto the pitch, apologized sarcastically to UEFA’s head Platini on Facebook.

“Sorry, Platini, for nearly breaking that stall with my head. Bravo UEFA,” he wrote. His teammate, Taulant Xhaka, called the decision “shameful in the eyes of the world”.

Albanian MP Erjon Brace went much further, calling the ruling “disgusting and corrupt.

 “This is a new standard in football, when you have to play even if they attack you, insult you, want to slaughter you and throw fireworks, lighters, stones and bottles," he said.

“Football is not a duty that you should have to risk your lives for, it’s a sport, competition and passion,” Brace added.

UEFA’s decision was not welcomed in Serbia, either. Dick Advocaat, the coach of Serbia’s national team, called the ruling “very odd”, adding that UEFA should not have put Albania and Serbia in the same group.

“The epilogue … is simply amazing - only one side was fined, and that was Serbia!” he said.

According to him, the UEFA decision was advantageous for the Albanian team, as they walked off the pitch. “They did not want to continue the game under any circumstances, or that evening with or without an audience, or the next day,” he added.

“I get the impression that someone does not want Serbia to be a participant in the European Championship 2016 in France,” Advocaat wrote.

The Serbian Football Association, FSS, announced it will also file a complaint against UEFA’s decision. It called the decision contradictory, as Serbia was declared the winner, but also lost three points.

“At the same time as proving the guilt of the opposite side, they took away three point from us,” the FSS wrote in a statement.

The first football match ever held between Albania and Serbia ended in chaos after a small drone with a banner embossed with Albanian motifs flew over the pitch, after which Serbian fans erupted.

The banner flown by the drone portrayed a map of “Greater Albania” covered with an Albanian flag and the portraits of independent Albania’s two founding fathers, Ismail Qemali and Isa Boletini.

After Serbian player Stefan Mitrovic pulled down the banner a scuffle ensued between the two teams, as Albanian players grabbed the flag back from Mitrovic.

The scuffle turned into a worse brawl when a group of Serbian fans invaded the pitch and attacked Albanian players, prompting British referee Martin Atkinson to suspend the match. The score was 0:0 at the time.

Videos and pictures show Serbian fans attacking Albanian players with fists and kicks as the Serbian players try to protect them.

Serbian fans also threw torches and lighters at the Albanian players as they left the field. Several Albanian players were hit by hooligan who had invaded the pitch.

Earlier in the match, Serbian fans booed the Albanian national anthem and chanted bloodthirsty, racist slogans, such as “Kill, Slaughter, so that the Šiptar [a pejorative term for Albanians] do not exist.”

 

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