Boost for Albanian qualification hopes, but hammer blow to Serbia's
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has awarded Albania a victory over Serbia, and in so doing, overturned Uefa sanctions imposed after a drone was flown into a stadium.
The Euro 2016 qualifying match in Belgrade in October 2014 was abandoned with the score goalless after fighting broke out between players, fans and team officials on the pitch of the Partizan Stadium.
The brawl came after the drone carrying a flag bearing an insignia of “Greater Albania”.
Uefa ordered Albania to forfeit the match, while Serbia were given a 3-0 default win. However, Serbia were also deducted three points and ordered to host two qualifiers behind closed doors. Both countries were fined €100,000.
CAS rejected the appeal filed by the Serbian FA, but upheld in part an appeal filed by Albania’s FA.
CAS ruled that Serbia were responsible for the game not being completed, and confirmed their deduction of three points – while also awarding Albania the 3-0 win. It means Albania are now level on 10 points with second-place Denmark in Group I, which is led by Portugal. Serbia are at the foot of the group, with minus two points.
In its ruling, CAS said: “The panel found that the match stoppage and the eventual abandonment of the match were caused by security lapses of the organisers and acts of violence exerted on the Albanian players by the Serbian fans and at least one security steward. As such, the panel holds that the Football Association of Serbia and not the Football Association of Albania must be considered as responsible for the match not being played in full.”
Albania’s FA will still have to pay their €100,000 fine after CAS said that “the FAA was responsible for the drone operated during the match, carrying a banner depicting Albanian nationalistic and patriotic symbols”.
Albania’s prime minister, Edi Rama, wrote on Facebook. “That is European justice! 3 points for the Red-and-Black National Team in Belgrade!!!”
The Albania coach, Giovanni de Biasi, said: “Justice is in its place. I am very happy, of course because when justice triumphs everybody is happy.”
The countries are scheduled for a return match in Albania on 8 October.