UEFA Charge Albania And Serbia After Abandoning Of Match

UEFA has charged the Serbian and Albanian football associations for the incidents at the abandoned Euro 2016 qualifier in Belgrade.

The Group I encounter in Belgrade descended into chaos and was halted shortly before half-time when a drone trailing a pro-Albania banner flew over the Partizan Stadium pitch.

Disorder escalated when Serbia defender Stefan Mitrovic brought down the flag, with players from both teams involved in a melee and objects subsequently thrown from the stands.

UEFA has now charged Serbia over the missiles thrown, the pitch invasion by fans, and poor organisation, whilst the Albanians have been charged for the flying of the banner, and for refusing to play on.

A statement on the URFA website read: “Disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the Football Association of Serbia (FSS) for the setting off/throwing of fireworks and missiles (Article 16(2b & c) UEFA Disciplinary Regulations), crowd disturbance (Art. 16(2h) DR), field invasion by supporters (Art. 16(2a) DR), insufficient organisation (Art. 16(1) DR) and use of a laser pointer (Art. 16(2d) DR).

“Proceedings have also been opened against the Football Association of Albania (FShF) for refusing to play (Art. 27(1) UEFA Competition Regulations) and the display of an illicit banner (Art. 16(2e) DR).

“The case will be dealt with by the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body on 23 October.”

UEFA president Michel Platini labelled the scenes, which forced English referee Martin Atkinson to lead the sides off the field after just 40 minutes, as "inexcusable".

The Frenchman said in a statement: "Football is supposed to bring people together and our game should not be mixed with politics of any kind. The scenes in Belgrade last night were inexcusable."

Meanwhile, the Serbian FA has launched fierce criticism of the Albania team, claiming its players acted with restraint despite being provoked by the "offensive" flag and were then attacked when they tried to remove it from the field.

A statement read: "Serbian player Stefan Mitrovic managed to catch the flag and, as it can be clearly seen on all the footages, started to fold it as calmly as possible, in order to give it to the fourth official and for the match to be continued.

"Absolutely all of the Serbian players and officials on the bench were in their seats, calm and without any attempt to show force or rage because of the incident. However, Albanian players acted very aggressively and physically attacked Mitrovic.

"For the truth and justice we will not and do not want to allow the perpetrators who violated football to present themselves as victims."

The statement said the Serbian FA had then asked UEFA to finish the match after emptying the stadium or to replay it this week but the Albanian FA refused.

It adds: "According to that, we estimate that they are directly guilty for the match abandonment and we expect that UEFA disciplinary bodies will register the match with 3-0 result, in favour of Serbia.

"It is a scandalous fact that the other party, with their 'job well done' is ridiculing not only FA of Serbia and Serbian people but also, we dare to say, UEFA."

Neither country had requested the pair be kept apart in the draw but Albanian supporters had been banned from entering the stadium by UEFA on safety grounds and the match was set against a backdrop of tight security.

Tensions have never been far from the surface between the nations over Kosovo, the province with which both countries share a disputed border.

Kosovo is recognised as independent by the United States and major European Union countries but not by Serbia - a bone of contention with Albania.

FIFA vice president Jim Boyce echoed Platini's dismay over the incident and expects "serious sanctions" to follow.

He told Sky Sports News HQ: "It's very sad that politics is once again entering the world of sport.

"Obviously the UEFA disciplinary committee will now look at this matter and I think will impose serious sanctions but it's a UEFA game and a matter for UEFA.

"It's very difficult for people inside the stadium to control something that happens outside the stadium; it might be case of increasing security outside the stadium.

"Sport should overcome all barriers but sadly, in some parts of the world, it doesn't."

FIFA president Sepp Blatter later added his voice to those condemning the events, writing on Twitter: "Football should never be used for political messages. I strongly condemn what happened in Belgrade last night."
(Sky Sports)

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