Serbia threatens to quit Euros over Croatia and Albania fans' 'kill the Serbs' chants - throwing England's group into chaos

20 June 2024, 13:32 | Updated: 20 June 2024, 13:37

Serbia threatens to quit Euros over Croatia and Albania fans' 'kill the Serbs' chanting - throwing England's group into chaos
Serbia threatens to quit Euros over Croatia and Albania fans' 'kill the Serbs' chanting - throwing England's group into chaos. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

Serbia has threatened to quit the European Championships over chanting from Croatia and Albanian fans - threatening to throw England's group into chaos.

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Serbia are demanding that UEFA impose strict sanctions on the two teams following their Group B match on Wednesday where fans were heard chanting: "Kill the Serbs".

The general secretary of the Football Association of Serbia, Jovan Šurbatović, said UEFA must impose the strongest possible sanctions on their fellow Balkan nations.

He told Serbian broadcaster RTS: "What happened is scandalous and we will ask UEFA for sanctions, even if it means not continuing the competition."

Serbia are in Group C and have already played England, losing 1-0. They are scheduled to face Slovenia later today and Denmark on Tuesday.

Serbia shares a tumultuous past with its surrounding Balkan nations, which culminated in the Kosovo war between 1998 and 1999.

Fans of Albania seen cheering during the UEFA Euro 2024 group stage match between Croatia and Albania at Volksparkstadion
Fans of Albania seen cheering during the UEFA Euro 2024 group stage match between Croatia and Albania at Volksparkstadion. Picture: Alamy

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Speaking to RTS, Šurbatović said he was "sure" Croatia and Albania "will be punished".

It comes after UEFA on Wednesday cancelled the credentials of a Kosovar journalist after he made a nationalist double-handed eagle gesture towards Serbia fans during the England game on Wednesday.

The gesture, similar to the Albanian flag, has caused controversy during tournaments in the past - including in the 2018 World Cup when Switzerland players Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, both ethnic Albanians, made the hand sign in a game against Serbia.

"We will request UEFA to punish the federations of both selections. We don't want to participate in that, but if UEFA doesn't punish them, we will think about how to proceed," Šurbatović said.

"We were punished for the cases of fishing and our fans behaved much better than the others. One fan was fined for racist abuse and we don't want it to be attributed to others.

"We Serbs are gentlemen and we have an open heart, so I appeal to the fans to remain gentlemen."

Serbia are playing Slovenia later today, but the team's final group match against Denmark could be affected if Šurbatović and the country's FA act on his warnings.

Serbian Fans disappointed after the loss vs England
Serbian Fans disappointed after the loss vs England. Picture: Alamy

Withdrawing would award Denmark an automatic 3-0 victory, according to UEFA rules - potentially throwing England's group wide open and affecting the chance of qualification for the knock-out rounds.

Separately, Serbia would receive a hefty fine and measures which could affect their entry into other future tournaments.

Croatia and Serbia played each other for the first time in 2013 in the "match of the decade". Serbia also played Albania for the first time in Euro 2016, which descended into chaos.

The hostility between Croatians and Albanians towards Serbia has its roots in the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1995.

Serbia's then-President Slobodan Milošević oversaw the genocide of ethnic Albanian Kosovars.

War between 1998 and 1999 saw NATO troops carry out an aerial bombardment campaign against Yugoslavia forces.

Serbia still refuses to recognise Kosovo as a nation state.

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