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UEFA to Discipline Serbia & Albania for Abandoning Qualifier

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Europe’s football governing body UEFA will open disciplinary proceedings against Serbia and Albania after their Euro 2016 qualifier in Belgrade was abandoned amid violence and politicising, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

“Of course there will be,’’ the spokesman said when asked whether the two countries were facing action.

The UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland was expecting the full report from their delegate in Belgrade on Wednesday.

Serbian and Albanian football organisations will have a week to present their case.

Earlier, world football organisation Joseph Blatter condemned the politically coloured violence in Belgrade.

“Football should never be used for political messages. I strongly condemn what happened in Belgrade last night,’’ the FIFA president tweeted on his personal Twitter account.

The Tuesday night match was interrupted late in the first half when a drone carrying a provocative Albanian banner sparked the atmosphere already thick with hostility after decades of Serbo-Albanian animosity and conflicts.

The players from both teams began scuffling about the banner, then spectators joined the melee on the pitch and the match was broken off.

Belgrade media reported that Olsi Rama, the brother of Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama, organised and piloted the flight of the drone, most commonly used to shoot aerial photos and videos.

Football officials and political leaders on both sides blamed the other for the incident.

Serbia may be in for severe sanctions, as its violent fans already interrupted a qualifier for the 2012 Euro that Serbia played as guests against Italy four years ago this week.

Serbs and Albanians have a history of hostility which climaxed in the Kosovo war 15 years ago. The former Serbian province with the Albanian majority declared independence in 2008.

The football incident raised political tensions as Edi Rama planned to visit Belgrade on Oct. 22.

The visit,  the first in nearly seven decades, was supposed to signal a thaw in relations between the two nations.

Serbian Prime Minister Vucic on Wednesday accused “Albanian extremists’’ of planning the incident to destabilise the region.

“Their intention was to show Serbia as a country intolerant to differences and to humiliate all its citizens,’’ he said at a media event.

After the match, Rama tweeted that Serbia has “sent a bad picture to the world’’.

Both Serbia and Albania strive to join the EU, and Brussels immediately warned them not to allow the incident to influence their cooperation, including Rama’s visit.

“We consider that politics should not be driven by stadium provocations,’’ said Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.

While she voiced disappointment with the disruption of the match, Kocijancic welcomed Serbia’s “professionalism’’ in handling the situation.

Photo Credit: AP

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) was established by the Federal Government of Nigeria in May 1976 to gather and distribute news on Nigeria and cover events of interest to Nigeria at the international level for the benefit of the Nigerian Media and the Public.

1 Comment

  1. G

    October 15, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Maja, serbs were professional as much as you are. Soccer is not your job description, thus you are getting paid for something that you don’t deserve.

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