Serbia awarded Albania win but docked points: UEFA
GENEVA - Agence France-Presse
A file photo taken on October 14, 2014 shows a flag with Albanian national symbols attached to a remotely operated drone flying in the stadium during the EURO 2016 group I football match between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade. AFP PhotoUEFA's disciplinary committee on Oct. 24 awarded Serbia a 3-0 victory in their aborted Euro 2016 qualification match with Albania, but deducted them three points.
Albania's football federation responded by saying they would appeal the decision.
The match in Belgrade was halted on October 14 after home fans invaded the pitch and attacked Albania players after a pro-Albanian flag was carried over the stadium by a drone.
The match was goalless when it was abandoned in the 41st minute as Albania players fled to the changing rooms as irrate fans invaded the pitch.
The provocative flag included a map of 'Greater Albania' incorporating parts of Serbia.
Albania allegedly refused to continue playing as Serbian fans chanted "Death to Albanians" and "Kill Albanians".
"The UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body (CEDB) met yesterday (Thursday) and announced the following decision after various incidents that occurred during the European Qualifier Group I match between Serbia and Albania, which was played in Belgrade on 14 October," said a UEFA media release.
"The CEDB has decided to declare the above-mentioned match as forfeited. As a consequence, the Football Association of Albania (FShF) is deemed to have lost the match 3-0. In addition, the FShF has been fined 100,000 euros ($127,000).
"The CEDB has also decided to deduct the Football Association of Serbia (FSS) three points for the current UEFA European Championship qualifying competition, In addition, the FSS has been ordered to play its next two UEFA competition matches as host team behind closed doors. Finally, the association has been fined 100,000 euros."
Albania's federation immediately revealed they would appeal.
"The UEFA commission's decision does not give justice. We cannot accept losing as all the facts are in our favour," blasted Albania's Italian coach Gianni De Biasi.
"The three points belong to Albania and they've taken away from us what we've deserved." Revealing the federation's intention to appeal, FShF secretary Ilir Shulku said: "The commission's decision is strange and unacceptable."
Albania claimed their team bus was pelted with stones before the match while concrete, coins and cigarette lighters were amongst objects hurled at the players during the match.
They also claim that they did not refuse to continue playing but that it was impossible to do so because of the atmosphere in the stadium.
The stadium violence was followed by rising nationalist tensions, with hooligans attacking several ethnic-Albanian-owned shops in Serbia.
Relations between Serbs and Albanians are often hostile, due to historical and recent disputes which are stoked by politicians on both sides.
A major flashpoint has been Kosovo, the former Serbian province mostly populated by ethnic Albanians.
Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in 2008 after almost a decade under United Nations control, imposed after a NATO bombing campaign to halt a Serbian crackdown on separatists there.
Kosovo play friendly matches but is not allowed to take part in international competitions, and several footballers with Kosovar roots have opted to play for Albania.