Albania's Daku gets two-game ban after leading chanting deemed offensive

football23 June 2024 17:43| © Reuters
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Mirlind Daku © Gallo Images

European soccer's governing body Uefa suspended Albania forward Mirlind Daku for two games on Sunday after he led Albanian fans in a round of offensive chants about Serbia and North Macedonia at Euro 2024.

Rows are proliferating at the tournament over insults relating to longstanding political and ethnic tensions in the Balkans region.

Daku has apologised for joining in the chanting of slogans against the two countries with a megaphone after his side's 2-2 draw with Croatia on Wednesday in Hamburg.

Uefa said his actions violated the rules of decent conduct and brought football into disrepute.

Kosovo-born Daku, who represented his homeland before switching to Albania in 2023, will miss Albania's final Group B game against Spain on Monday in Duesseldorf, with a spot in the last 16 still within reach. Albania are in third in the group on one point.

Albania's football federation in a statement issued an "appeal to all Albanian fans to be more responsible and avoid the creation of these totally avoidable incidents and riots".

Uefa fined Albania €47 500 on three different charges, including transmitting provocative messages not fit for a sports event.

Croatia are facing a €28 000 fine for the lighting and throwing of fireworks by their fans.

Uefa said it was still investigating potential racist and/or discriminatory conduct by fans at the match.

Serbia had threatened to withdraw from the tournament over the chanting by Croatia and Albania fans at their match.

Part of the controversy centres on Albanian-majority Kosovo, whose independence Serbia does not accept, while the Western Balkans is also riven by a web of historical grievances and trauma after wars following the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

Last week Uefa cancelled the media credentials of Kosovar journalist Arlind Sadiku after complaints about a Albanian nationalist gesture he made towards Serbia fans during their game against England on Sunday in Gelsenkirchen.