Leagues suspended after ethnic violence

Macedonian Football Association suspends matches until ethnic tensions which prompted violence calm down.

    The football divisions have been placed on standby until tensions in the region dissipate [GETTY]

    Macedonian first and second division football matches have been suspended indefinitely after ethnic violence in the Balkan country, the country's Football Federation told news agency Reuters on Wednesday.

    Three clubs from the city of Tetovo, populated mainly by ethnic Albanians, had been ordered to play their respective opponents at neutral venues after an incident in which a policeman was attacked.

    "After consultations with the Interior Ministry, we decided to put the first and second division on standby until the tension in the Tetovo region is eased," FFM secretary general Igor Klimper said.

    "Under the rules of the competition, one round of matches has to be completed before the next round begins and this means we will have to cram the schedule when the leagues eventually resume," he added.

    Confrontation

    Two fans of Macedonian champions Shkendija Tetovo, rallying mainly ethnic Albanian players and supporters, attacked a group of Macedonian schoolboys on Sunday and stabbed a police officer who confronted them.

    After they were arrested and handed a mandatory 30-day detention, die-hard Shkendija fans threatened on message boards to cause serious incidents in a match against league leaders Vardar Skopje originally scheduled for Wednesday.

    Shkendija and two other clubs from Tetovo, Renova and Teteks, were then ordered to move their matches to neutral grounds but police deemed the venues they chose unsafe.

    "The Interior Ministry recommended to the FFM that the league should be put on hold because of the risks and the possibly dire consequences of incidents which might have broken out," Macedonian police said in a statement to the media.

    Ethnic tension in Macedonia erupted two weeks ago when an off-duty police officer shot and killed two ethnic Albanians after a dispute over parking space in the town of Gostivar.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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