Incumbent president re-elected for fifth consecutive term as head of Albania’s football

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 7, 2018 14:25
Armand Duka was re-elected as head of Albania's football association for a fifth four-year term

Armand Duka was re-elected as head of Albania’s football association for a fifth four-year term

TIRANA, Feb. 7 – Armand Duka has been reelected as the president of Albania’s football association, getting a fifth consecutive four-year term at the helm of the country’s most important sports organization.

In a voting session held on Wednesday at a seaside hotel in the city of Durres, 55-year-old incumbent president Duka beat main rival Bashkim Fino, a former Prime Minister and current ruling Socialist Party MP, by 38 votes to 24.

The winner was decided in a run-off vote after none of the initial three candidates managed to get the qualified majority of 2/3 of votes by the 66 delegates.

Shpetim Hala, a sports journalist and former referee in inferior Italian football leagues, managed to get no votes at all.

Speaking after his re-election Duka said the elections held by the football association’s General Assembly met standards.

“I am happy and excited not because of the fact that I will be the president, but because of the reliability and I feel deeply obliged that something more difficult awaits me starting today,” Duka said.

The 55-year incumbent president and businessman with stakes in several food and electronic equipment companies has been in office as the president of Albania’s most popular sport since 2002 and managed to get easily re-elected although having no prior sports background.

His main rival Bashkim Fino described the process as irregular and warned he would take legal action in Albania, the European and world football governing bodies UEFA and FIFA and even address Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.

A former short-term consensual Prime Minister during the country’s 1997 turmoil, Fino strongly opposed the participation of 12 sports associations which he called ‘ghost organizations’ in the voting process, claiming they were unregistered with local courts.

“We will take this issue to the end, for the football’s own good. We will respect Albanian courts and then address not only the Court of Arbitration for Sport but also FIFA,” says Fino, a 55-year-old veteran politician.

Albanian international and club football has progressed in the past few years as the national side made a first ever appearance at a major competition and Skenderbeu made it twice to the UEFA Europa League group stage although it was banned for one year from international football on match fixing allegations in the 2016-2017 season and had its 2016 Superliga title lifted.

After its debut Euro 2016 appearance, Albania failed to make it to the Russia 2018 World Cup finishing third in tough qualifying group stage with Spain and Italy.

New coach Christian Panucci, the successor of Gianni De Biasi, has been set a Euro 2020 qualification target following his good start with the national side since taking over in mid-2017.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 7, 2018 14:25