Serbia’s football association threatens to withdraw from the European Championship if UEFA does not punish Croats and Albanians for their chants

Serbian football officials threatened to withdraw from the European Championship after feeling insulted by chants that were heard during the Albania-Croatia match.

The game on Wednesday ended 2-2 in Hamburg.

Serbia played its second group match against Slovenia in Munich on Thursday afternoon and drew 1-1. Serbia’s third and possibly final match is against Denmark on Tuesday.

“What happened is a scandal and we will ask UEFA for sanctions, even if it means stopping the competition,” said Jovan Surbatovic, general secretary of the Serbian Football Association.

“We will ask UEFA to punish the associations of both teams. We do not want to be involved in this, but if UEFA does not punish them, we will think about how to proceed.”

In a separate statement on Thursday, the Serbian Football Association condemned the “shameful racist behaviour” of the Albanian and Croatian fans and said the game should have been stopped as soon as the chants started.

“Such an insult to a nation with calls to kill it has not been seen at sporting events for a long time,” the statement continued.

UEFA did not respond to requests for comment on the threats from Serbia.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin was with Serbian officials at the match against his home country Slovenia in Munich.

UEFA’s tournament rules for Euro 2024 provide for sanctions against teams that refuse to play. An association responsible for a match not taking place or not being played in full will lose all entitlement to payments from UEFA.

Serbia will receive at least €9.25 million ($9.9 million) from a tournament prize fund of €331 million ($355 million), which comes from UEFA’s revenue from broadcast and sponsorship deals and ticket sales. The Serbian Football Association would also have to pay compensation and face further disciplinary action.

The hostility of Croatian and Albanian fans towards the Serbs (and vice versa) dates back to the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Serbian fans are notorious for their anti-Croatian and anti-Albanian chants, as well as their racist chants and vocal support for 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 football associations 10,000 euros ($10,700) each after their first group matches because fans displayed banners with nationalist maps.

Each association is responsible for the behaviour of its fans and UEFA accused Serbia and Albania of “conveying provocative messages that are inappropriate for a sporting event”.

Albania fans carried a banner with a map of their country showing its borders reaching into neighboring countries. The banner was seen during the 2-1 defeat to Italy in Dortmund on Saturday.

A banner carried by Serbian fans during the 1-0 defeat to England in Gelsenkirchen depicted the territory of Kosovo, a former Serbian province that declared its independence in 2008, and the slogan “No surrender”.

UEFA has also launched an investigation into allegations that monkey chants were used against English players during the match.

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