In final decision, CAS awards Albania 0-3 victory for abandoned Belgrade match, upholds drone fine

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 10, 2015 11:33

Story Highlights

  • The Laussane-based Court of Arbitration for Sport said it had awarded Albania a 0-3 away victory but left in force a Euro 100,000 fine against the Albanian football association for the drone that flew over the pitch.

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Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne (Photo: Fanny Schertzer/CC Wikimedia Commons)

Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne (Photo: Fanny Schertzer/Wikimedia Commons)

TIRANA, July 10 - In a final decision, the Court of Arbitration for Sport has awarded Albania three points for last year's match against Serbia abandoned due to violence in Belgrade.

The Switzerland-based CAS said in a statement that Serbia would have to forfeit the game 0-3 due to violence by its fans. The court did leave in force a Euro 100,000 fine against the Albanian football association for the disruption to the match by a drone carrying an Albanian banner.

The court had postponed the decision twice asking more time to study the evidence. It's ruling is not open to any further appeals. .

"The CAS Panel has decided that the UEFA European Championship qualifying Group I match between Serbia and Albania be deemed to have been forfeited by the FAS [the Football Association of Serbia] by the score of 0:3," the court's statement said.

CAS added it found no evidence that Albania refused to play following an order issued by the referee in the 41st minute when the match was abandoned and that FAS and not the Football Association of Albania must be considered as responsible for the match not being played in full. The ruling overturned an UEFA decision that noted Albania had refused to play.

"The CAS Panel was unable to ascertain to its comfortable satisfaction that the referee issued a clear, direct and unconditional order to the players to resume the match on the basis of a definite decision that safety had been assured," the court's statement said.

The CAS left in force the Euro 100,000 fine against Albania, declaring the Albanian football association responsible for the drone operated during the match, carrying a banner depicting Albanian nationalistic and patriotic symbols.

The news of the decision has caused a storm of celebration among Albanians on social media.

"Super. This is what European Justice means. 3 points for the Red and Blacks in Belgrade. Go Albania," Prime Minister Edi Rama wrote on his Twitter profile.

Albania's coach Gianni De Biasi said the CAS decision had increased Albania's chances of qualification into Euro 2016 but Albania still faces a tough challenge.

"I am happy because justice has been done and now we are calmer," De Biasi said. "The Sept. 4 match away to Denmark is a great challenge which we have to overcome."

De Biasi had earlier described the CAS decision as key to securing a spot in the top two in Group I, which means a direct qualification and no need for a play-off in case of a third place.

"We are very dependent on the CAS decision on the match against Serbia. A decision in favour of Albania will increase Albania's chances of a direct qualification," De Biasi has said ahead of the friendly with France, which Albania won.

Albania had appealed UEFA decision which handed the national team a 3-0 loss and a €100,000 fine over the abandonment of the match last October after a fight in the match's first half when a drone with Albanian nationalist symbols was flown into the pitch, sparking a violent brawl which saw Albanian players running for the dressing room and hit with objects thrown from the stadium where Albanian fans had been banned to attend.

UEFA punished Albania for "refusing to play on" and Serbia for their part in the incident fueled by the "Greater Albania" map which also featured Kosovo, an ethnic Albanian country which declared independence from Serbia in 2008 after an armed conflict in the late 1990s. Some of Albania's best players have roots in Kosovo and play for top clubs in Europe.

Serbia also opposed the UEFA decision which despite handing them 3-0 victory, deducted them three points, were ordered to play the next two matches behind closed doors and fined €100,000.

Albania achieved their highest ever FIFA world ranking this week following remarkable progress in their Euro 2016 qualification bid and a historic victory with France last June.

Albania climbed 15 spots to 36th in the July FIFA ranking, which is a historic high for the country's national side since 1946 when it made its international debut with a friendly against then-Yugoslavia.

The new ranking has officially earned Albania one seeding pot for the World Cup qualifying draw Russia 2018 scheduled for July 25.

Albania is set to be seeded in Pot 3 for the first time ever after having been historically seeded in Pots 4 and 5 in previous draws.

Asked about the historic climb, Albania's coach Gianni De Biasi has avoided strong enthusiasm by saying "I will reach my conclusions when I see the teams we are drawn against. For now, we still don't know how much the third pot is worth."

The three points awarded by CAS mean Albania now rank on par to second-placed Denmark with 10 points.

With one game in hand, Albania currently officially rank third in Group I with 7 points, five behind group leaders Portugal and three behind second-placed Denmark, both of which have played one game more.

Serbia and Armenia rank bottom with one point each in five matches.
Albania's next qualifier will be away to Denmark on September 4 before hosting Portugal three days later.

Football experts say Albania, whose players play in prestigious leagues including Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, stands a real chance to qualify for the France Euro 2016 after historically finishing bottom and second from bottom in previous Euro and World Cup qualifying stages.

The top two group teams and the best third-placed side qualify directly for the final tournament of the Euro 2016. The eight remaining third-placed teams will contest play-offs to determine the last four qualifiers.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 10, 2015 11:33