Albania says player banned for two Euro 2024 games for ‘nationalist’ chants

The ban comes after Albania forward Mirlind Daku apologised for leading fans in derogatory chants against Croatia at Euro 2024.

Football player strikes ball.
Albania's Mirlind Daku during a Euro 2024 qualifying football match in 2023 [File: Florion Goga/Reuters]

The Albanian Football Federation said UEFA has banned its player Mirlind Daku for two games at the European Championships after he led fans in nationalist chants.

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 Football Federation also said on Sunday that the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) imposed fines totaling 47,250 euros ($50,500) for incidents at the game, where its fans joined Croatian fans in chanting an anti-Serb slogan.

The Football Association of Serbia said it would leave the tournament if UEFA did not punish the incidents.

Albania plays a decisive group-stage game on Monday against Spain.

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

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, after a war that killed 10,000 civilians, the vast majority Kosovar Albanians. Serbia has refused to recognise Kosovo’s statehood, considering it part of Serbia, and tensions persist.

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.

Croatia was formerly part of the Serb-dominated Yugoslavia, declaring independence in 1991 that led to a four-year war, part of the wider conflict brought on by the breakup of Yugoslavia.

The Albanian Football 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 behaviour and by respecting the rules and the opponents,” the federation said in 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.

Source: News Agencies