"New Serbia-Albania match to be played on neutral ground"

The abandoned European championship qualifier between Serbia and Albania will most likely be played again on neutral ground.

Source: B92, Tanjug, Večernje novosti

This is what the Belgrade-based daily Večernje Novosti said it learned from a source close to the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).

The paper reported in its Friday issue that if UEFA decides that a new match will be played between Serbia and Albania, it would start from scratch, and not from 41st minute when the match was abandoned because of the incidents.

According to the daily's findings, UEFA is most likely to decide that the two national teams should meet in completely different circumstances, without audience, so as to reduce the room for new incidents to a minimum.

UEFA opened disciplinary proceedings against the football associations of both Serbia and Albania, and confirmed earlier on Friday that the decision on the outcome of the match and possible punishments will be delivered by its three-member commission on October 23.

The Football Association of Serbia has faced the proceedings for the setting off/throwing of fireworks and missiles, crowd disturbance, field invasion by supporters, insufficient organization and use of a laser pointer, and the Football Association of Albania for refusing to play and the display of an illicit banner.

The European championship qualifier between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade on Tuesday was abandoned after a brawl that followed the appearance of a drone with a banner depicting the so-called Greater Albania, a nationalist project that would include parts of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece.

President of the Court of Arbitration of the Serbian Football Association Slobodan Pajović, however, told B92 on Friday that he expects UEFA will "at the very least" register the game as Serbia's 3-0 victory .

The reason, he explained, is that the Albanian players on Tuesday refused to resume the game, although this was demanded of them.

"I am certain that officials will represent the situation the way it happened. I think the facts are on our side. Above all, I have think the cause of this conflict and match interruption was the flag, that is, the political provocation of large proportions which then caused the unrest and unsportsmanlike behavior of the audience. If the cause of the incident is considered, it came from the Albanian side. I saw in the FSS statements that UEFA asked the Albanian Football Association to explain why they did not resume the game. The conclusion is that they were asked to do so, and (refusing) is one of the most serious transgressions because it was not up to them to decide whether to continue playing or not," Pajović said, and added:

"They had to do it, and this is sanctioned at least by (registering) the 3-0 result and taking away points because it is one of the more serious violations. A violation that concerns political provocations is on par with racist, religious and ethnic ones, so what followed does not even compare. I think the worst thing that can happen to us is shared responsibility for the game interruption and a new game in front of an empty stadium."

Pajović also said he was convinced that the Dutch delegate would file an objective report about the incident.


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