By Die Morina
FIFA on Thursday fined the Croatian and Kosovo’s soccer federations a total of 80,000 Swiss francs for anti-Serbian chants by fans of both countries at a World Cup qualifying match in Shkodra, Albania in October. Kosovo was fined 30,000 francs.
The head of the Kosovo Football Federation, Fadil Vokrri, said he did not contest FIFA’s decision, urging the team’s fans to watch their words.
“If we really want to compete at such levels, fans should be more careful. I find this decision very logical,” Vokrri told BIRN.
At its second qualifying match for the 2018 World Cup, after Kosovo was accepted into UEFA and FIFA earlier this year, media footage of the match showed Kosovo and Croatia fans outside and inside the Loro Borici stadium chanting “Kill the Serbs”.
With Kosovo football still facing an uphill struggle in terms of players and infrastructure, Vokrri said the fans’ bad behaviour risked doing serious damage to the federation.
“I appeal to fans to be really careful on these issues, as with this amount of money [the fine] we could invest on things that need to be done” Vokrri said.
Ahead of the match against Croatia on October 6, Albanian authorities reported that around 16,000 people crossed the border from Kosovo to support their team in Shkodra’s stadium.
Balkan football fans have a long history of using matches to air political and ethnic disputes between their countries.
The first match between Albania and Serbia in decades, played in October 2014, was abandoned in the 41st minute after a clash between the teams, the result of a drone carrying a “Greater Albania” flag being flown over the pitch.
Serbian fans booed the Albanian national anthem and chanted racist slogans, such as “Kill the Albanians”.
The match later became the object of a UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body ruling.
Before the match with Croatia, Kosovo played its first competitive international match in September against Finland for a World Cup qualifier.
Kosovo finally joined FIFA in May despite strong opposition from Serbia, which opposes any international endorsement of its former province’s independence.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and has been recognized by more than 100 countries, but not by Serbia, Russia, China, and five EU member states – Spain, Slovakia, Greece, Romania and Cyprus.
– See more at: http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/kosovo-football-federation-condemned-by-fifa-11-04-2016#sthash.KFP4YOSk.dpuf
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