Ahead of a football match between Albania and Serbia on October 8, 70 Serbian students have been invited to cheer on the Serbian team in Elbasan in Albania, despite the risks.
|Interrupted football game between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade | Photo by Beta/AP|
The Albanian football association announced on October 1 that the Serbian students had been invited to Elbasan by their Albanian colleagues.
Albanian football supporters were banned from attending the match in Belgrade and it was initally announced that Serbian fans would not be allowed to watch the game in Albania.
However, that decision has been changed.
The Albanian Football Association said that as the Albanian police had marked the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying match as a high-risk event, the police will use heavy security during the game.
Albanian media reported earlier that the police would even engage snipers to prevent any incidents.
However, the Belgrade-based sports journalist Dejan Andjus told BIRN there was no reason to expect trouble.
“I expect nothing to happen. There is no reason for it, this is a sporting event, nothing else. The game is also practically without sporting significance because everything was already solved in our qualifying group,” Andjus said.
The first match between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade last October ended in mayhem when a small drone with a banner embossed with Albanian motifs flew over the pitch.
Serbian fans then invaded the pitch and also threw torches and lighters at the Albanian players as they left the field. Several Albanian players were struck by the hooligans who had invaded the pitch.
Following an investigation, the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body penalised the Football Association of Serbia with a three-point deduction in the current UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying round, a fine of 100,000 euro and an order that the next two competition matches at home be played behind closed doors.
UEFA also sanctioned the Football Association of Albania, however, with the loss of the match 3-0 and a fine of 100,000 euro.
However, the Court of Sports Arbitration, CAS, in July finally awarded victory in the match to Albania.
After the CAS ruling, the prime ministers of both Serbia and Albania, Aleksandar Vucic and Edi Rama, debated the ruling on Twitter.
While Rama supported the Court decision, saying, "This is what means to have European justice”, Vucic called court verdict “shameful and a world-class example of injustice".
However, Andjus blamed the Serbian authorities for not resolving what actually happened during the game in Belgrade and who was responsible.
"Serbian officials first said the drone was launched by Olsi Rama, the brother of the Albanian Prime Minister but presented no evidence for their claims. In the end, the case was never investigated and we never learned who had started the incidents," Andjus said.