Fifa to investigate Serbia over Kosovo flag

Fifa to investigate Serbia over Kosovo flag

The world’s footballing body Fifa has initiated disciplinary proceedings against the Serbian football association after the team displayed a flag depicting Kosovo in their dressing room.

The flag showed a representation of Kosovo, which used to be a province of Serbia before the 1999 war, covered with Serbia’s flag and the words “no surrender”.

Pictures showed Serbian fans holding the flag and it was later pictured in the dressing team’s room.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 but Belgrade refuses to recognise the Nato-backed state.

The European footballing body Uefa prohibits Kosovo from being drawn against Serbia, Russia or Bosnia in the group stage of any Uefa competition or qualifying tournament.

The Football Federation of Kosovo (FFK) on Friday complained to Fifa and the International Olympic Committee, citing Serbia’s “chauvinistic rhetoric” at the team’s 2-0 defeat to Brazil.

At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Swiss players Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, who have Kosovar heritage, were fined around US$10,500 for celebrating goals against Serbia with a two-headed eagle gesture, mimicking the Albanian flag.

Kosovo’s boxers were denied entry to Serbia for last year’s Men’s World Boxing Championships, which led to the athletes withdrawing from the competition.

The Kosovo flag was not displayed at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade this year. 

An FFK statement said: “Such acts of chauvinism have no place in a sports event, and even less inside the facilities where the biggest event of world football takes place, therefore FFK, as an equal member with all other members of Fifa, demands from this institution to undertake sanctioning measures against actions that incite hatred between peoples and are against human values.

“It is unacceptable for this act to pass in silence, therefore we strongly request that Fifa strictly implement its rules and punish the football federation of Serbia for this aggressive action and against the values that football conveys.”

Spain has refused to grant Kosovo permission to compete under its own flag at the 2018 Karate World Championships, before backing down following pressure from the international sporting community.

Spain does not recognise Kosovo, presumably because of implications for the Basque and Catalan independence movements.

Serbia play Cameroon in their next Group G game on Monday.


Serbian fans before the defeat to Brazil. Picture credit: YouTube 

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