Albania team says UEFA banned player Mirlind Daku for two Euro 2024 games after nationalist chants

AP , Sunday 23 Jun 2024

The Albanian soccer federation said UEFA banned its player Mirlind Daku on Sunday for two games after leading fans in nationalist chants at the European Championship.

Mirlind Daku
Albania s forward #19 Mirlind Daku (L) and Croatia s goalkeeper #01 Dominik Livakovic fight for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group B football match between Croatia and Albania at the Volksparkstadion in Hamburg on June 19, 2024. AFP

 

Daku took a megaphone after Albania’s 2-2 draw with Croatia on Wednesday in Hamburg and joined in chanting slogans against Serbia and North Macedonia.

The Albanian federation also said UEFA imposed fines totaling 47,250 euros ($50,500) for incidents at the game, where its fans joined Croatian fans and chanted an anti-Serb slogan.

The Serbian soccer federation said it would leave the tournament if UEFA did not punish the incidents.

Albania plays a decisive group-stage game on Monday against Spain. If Albania advances, Daku also would sit out the round of 16 game.

Daku later apologized for his actions in a social media posting, as UEFA appointed an in-house investigator to study his “alleged inappropriate behavior.”

The 26-year-old forward began playing for Albania last year having used his right under FIFA rules to change his eligibility from Kosovo, the ethnic-Albanian former province of Serbia that declared independence 16 years ago.

UEFA also announced charges against its Albanian and Croatian member federations for “potential racist and/or discriminatory conduct” by fans on Wednesday, who were reportedly chanting “Kill the Serbs” in Serbian.

The Albanian soccer Federation, or FSHF, called on the fans to be “accountable and avoid incidents and riots.”

“The FSHF invites fans and football lovers to support to the end the Albanian national team in this magical and historic path in Euro 2024 by showing citizenry and accountability through correct behavior and by respecting the rules and the opponents,” said a statement.

Albania has impressed at Euro 2024 in an opening 2-1 loss against Italy and then the 2-2 draw with Croatia. The team likely needs to beat Spain to advance.

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