Serbia and Albania Penalized by UEFA for Soccer Brawl

Serbia and Albania were both penalized by European soccer’s governing body UEFA after their European qualifying match was abandoned because of violence.

The match, which was played in Belgrade on 14 October, was declared as forfeited, UEFA said today in a statement on its website.

As a result, Albania was deemed by UEFA to have lost the match 3-0, with the ruling body also deciding to deduct three points from Serbia in the race for qualification for European Championship qualifying competition.

Serbia must play its next two UEFA competition home matches behind closed doors, while both the Serbian and Albanian football associations were fined 100,000 euros ($127,000).

Serbia sees the decision as “contradictory and unjust” as the deduction of points eliminates the effect of 3-0 victory, the country’s sports minister Vanja Udovicic told state news agency Tanjug. He said he’d back an appeal.

“It’s illogical to take away three points for the winning side,” he said. “It raises the question what the purpose is of the official score.”

The match was abandoned after a remote-controlled aircraft, carrying a banner bearing a map of greater Albania, buzzed the field in Belgrade and triggered a bench-clearing brawl in the middle of the field. Visiting fans weren’t allowed at the game, and the crowd whistled during the playing of the Albanian national anthem and threw flares onto the playing surface.

It was Albania’s first game in the Serbian capital since 1967 and was deemed a security risk because of the yearlong Kosovo war between the countries in the late 1990s. In 1999, the then Yugoslav republic of Serbia was bombed for 11 weeks in a North Atlantic Treaty Organization campaign to end former President Slobodan Milosevic’s crackdown on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

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