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UEFA fines Serbia and Albania and investigates Croatia as Euro 2024 reignites Balkan feuds

lbania fans cheer prior to the Group B match between Italy and Albania at the Euro 2024  tournament in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024
lbania fans cheer prior to the Group B match between Italy and Albania at the Euro 2024 tournament in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024 Copyright AP/Alessandra Tarantino
Copyright AP/Alessandra Tarantino
By Alessio Dell'Anna with AP
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The latest disciplinary proceeding hit Albania's Mirlind Daku as he chanted anti-Macedonian and anti-Serbian slogans on Wednesday.

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Europe's football governing body, UEFA, has handed down a series of disciplinary actions to Balkan nations as their teams have been involved in nationalist incidents at the Euro 2024 tournament in Germany.

The latest measure was targeted at Albania's striker Mirlind Daku, who was suspended for two games after leading fans in chanting anti-Macedonian slogans after Albania-Croatia on Wednesday.

Albania's football federation was slapped with a €47,250 fine because of the incident.

The suspended Albanian player apologised on social media, while UEFA appointed an in-house investigator to study his “alleged inappropriate behaviour".

The suspension and fines come as Albania plays a decisive group-stage game against Spain on Monday. If Albania wins, Daku will be forced to sit out the first subsequent knockout game.

Meanwhile, Croatia is currently under investigation for “potential racist and/or discriminatory conduct” as fans reportedly joined Albanian fans in chanting “Kill the Serbs” — in Croatian — in the same Croatia-Albania game.

Serbian and Croatian, as well as Bosnian and Montenegrin, are all mutually intelligible languages.

Serbia had previously threatened to leave Euro 2024 if UEFA didn't take action.

Football federations are responsible for their fans' behaviour at games.

Croatian fans during the game against Albania on Wednesday 19 June 2024
Croatian fans during the game against Albania on Wednesday 19 June 2024AP Photo

Albania most fined nation in Euro 2024

Despite playing only two games in the tournament, Albania has already amassed a considerable number of disciplinary proceedings for bad conduct – four of which resulted from a single match with Italy on 15 June.

UEFA charged the Albanian federation €27,375 over fans lighting flares and fireworks, throwing beer cups and a fan storming the pitch.

A further €10,000 fine came after fans displayed an Albanian map with its borders extending into neighbouring countries' territories.

Albania fans cheer prior to the Group B match between Italy and Albania at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024
Albania fans cheer prior to the Group B match between Italy and Albania at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024AP/Alessandra Tarantino

'No surrender': Serbia charged over banner including Kosovo

Likewise, Serbia was charged for displaying a nationalist banner during its 16 June game against England. The graphic featured the territory of Kosovo above a slogan that said “No Surrender", which UEFA has described as "a provocative message not fit for a sports event".

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 after a bloody conflict in the late 1990s. The issue is still contentious, as only 22 out of 27 EU member states recognise its nationhood.

The Serbian Football Association received another €4,500 fine for fans throwing objects from the stands.

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Serbia fans cheer during a Group C match between Serbia and England at the Euro 2024 tournament in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Sunday, June 16, 2024
Serbia fans cheer during a Group C match between Serbia and England at the Euro 2024 tournament in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Sunday, June 16, 2024AP/Alessandra Tarantino

Kosovo journalist banned after 'eagle sign' to Serbian fans

Last Wednesday, UEFA withdrew the Euro 2024 media accreditation of Kosovar journalist Arlind Sadiku over provoking Serbian fans at the 16 June Serbia-England game.

During the live broadcast, Sadiku reportedly turned to Serbian fans and made the nationalist double-headed eagle gesture with his hands.

The double-headed eagle is featured on the Albanian flag and gained increasing significance as a symbol of ethnic pride in Albania, as well as in Kosovo and other regions.

Its display in football stadiums has sparked controversy in the past.

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