Albania’s national team has been branded a ‘mafia group’ by Prime Minister Sali Berisha while the country’s culture minister accused the President of the National Football Federation of “selling” two Euro 2008 qualifiers.
In a letter addressed to UEFA last month, Culture Minister Ylli Pango called upon the sport’s governing body to investigate “clear suspicions that both matches might have been sold by the President of our National Football Federation”.
“This is clear evidence that he is using our national soccer team’s matches for his own interests, insulting the feelings of its fans and supporters,” Pango wrote.
“Therefore, I kindly invite UEFA to investigate both matches,” he added.
Albania lost 4-2 at home to Belarus and 6-1 away to Romania in the last two Euro 2008 qualifiers. Coach Otto Baric resigned at the end of the campaign.
Pango’s letter to Gianni Infantino, UEFA’s Director of Legal Service and Club Licensing, was released after Prime Minister Sali Berisha said the national team had brought shame on Albanians.
“This is mafia group that tramples upon the flag,” Berisha said on local television.
“Let the nation be not represented for a time rather than be represented by a mafia that sells their shirts.”
The players have asked Berisha to stop reaching “hasty” conclusions, threatening to sue him if the investigation found them innocent.
Meanwhile, Arben Bici, the federation’s secretary, said they welcomed the investigation, and asked the government to supply any evidence of match-fixing.