Euro 2024 Albania Mirlind Daku banned nationalistic chants

Albania forward Mirlind Daku has been banned for two games by UEFA for leading supporters in nationalistic chants after his country’s 2-2 draw with Croatia.

Daku took a megaphone after the game had finished in Hamburg on Wednesday and sang anti-North Macedonia and anti-Serbia songs.

“Daku will be banned for a total of two UEFA representative team competition matches for which he would be otherwise eligible,” a statement from European football’s governing body confirmed on Sunday.

“[Daku] failed to comply with the general principles of conduct, violated the basic rules of decent conduct, used sports events for manifestations of a non-sporting nature and brought the sport of football into disrepute.”

Daku, who has since apologised for his actions, will miss Monday’s game against Spain in Düsseldorf, where Albania could book their place in the knockout stages for the first time ever with a win.

He will also be unavailable for the round of 16 should Albania qualify.

“I am not here to speak about politics, this is a thing UEFA has to take care of,” Albania captain Berat Djimsiti said in a news conference on Sunday. “The main reason we are here is to play an important, big game tomorrow and have chances on the pitch.

“This is the most important thing, to have our fans with us, there will be a lot of people here tomorrow, and to make them proud and also ourselves.”

Rubin Kazan forward Daku only began playing for Albania last year after using his right under FIFA rules to change his eligibility from Kosovo, the ethnic-Albanian former province of Serbia that declared independence 16 years ago.

Meanwhile, the Albanian Football Association have been fined a total of €47,500 for the lighting of fireworks, a pitch invasion and for transmitting provocative messages not fit for a sports event during the same match.

Croatia were also fined €28,000 for the lighting and throwing of fireworks during the game.

After footage of Daku with the megaphone and, later, Albania and Croatia fans uniting in anti-Serbia chants, Serbia threatened to withdraw form Euro 2024 if UEFA did not deal with the matter via comments made by Jovan Surbatovic, the general secretary of the Football Association of Serbia.

In a separate statement, the Serbia FA condemned the “shameful racist behavior” of the Albanian and Croatian fans and said the match should have been suspended as soon as the chants started.

Prior to that, on Wednesday, UEFA had cancelled the media credentials of a Kosovar journalist Arlind Sadiku for allegedly making a nationalist gesture towards Serbia fans during their game against England in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday.

A statement issued by UEFA read: “UEFA can confirm that one journalist has had his accreditation cancelled due to misconduct at the UEFA EURO 2024 match between Serbia and England on 16 June 2024.”

Albania, Croatia and Serbia are all still alive going into the final round of fixtures this week in the group phase.

All three nations have one point from their two games so far. In addition to Albana against Spain, Croatia face Italy on Monday in Group B, while Serbia close Group C against Denmark on Tuesday.