Euro 2024: Serbia threatens to quit tournament over Albanian and Croatian fans’ behaviour

Serbian football officials threatened to quit the European Championship over fan chants reportedly heard during Wednesday’s Albania-Croatia match in Hamburg.

The game on Wednesday ended 2-2.

Serbia started its second group match against Slovenia on Thursday afternoon in Munich.

“What happened is scandalous, and we will ask UEFA for sanctions, even at the cost of not continuing the competition,” Serbia Football Association general secretary Jovan Šurbatović said.

“We will request UEFA to punish the federations of both teams. We don’t want to participate in that, but if UEFA doesn’t punish them, we will think about how to proceed.”

It is unclear what the consequences of Serbia’s early withdrawal from the tournament might be at this time. UEFA has yet to respond.

Tit for tat

The animosity between Croatian and Albanian fans toward the Serbs, and vice versa, dates to the 1990s wars in the Balkans.

Serbian fans are notorious for their chants against the Croats and Albanians, as well as racist shouts and vocal support of convicted war criminals responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands during the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

UEFA fined the Albanian and Serbian federations €10,000 each after their first group matches for fans displaying banners featuring nationalist maps, or for “transmitting provocative messages not fit for a sports event”.

Each federation is responsible for the conduct of its fans. Serbia’s UEFA fine grew to €14,500 for “throwing of objects”, while Albania has to pay a total of €37,375 for pitch invasion and “lighting of fireworks”.

Croatian supporters in Hamburg light a flare as they cheer during a Group B match between Croatia and Albania at the Euro 2024 football tournament, 19 June 2024

A group of Albanian fans arrived with a banner and a map showing their country extending its borders into the territory of neighbouring countries. The offending map was displayed in Dortmund on Saturday during the team’s 2-1 loss to Italy.

Meanwhile, a Serbia fans’ banner seen at the 1-0 loss against England in Gelsenkirchen included the territory of Kosovo, a former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008, and the slogan “No Surrender”.

UEFA has also launched an investigation into claims of racist monkey chants by some Serbian fans aimed at England players during the clash.

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