Partizani handed two-game stadium ban over racist behavior

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times November 1, 2018 12:57

Partizani handed two-game stadium ban over racist behavior

Story Highlights

  • The disciplinary committee of the Albanian Football Association says Partizani fans displayed 'derogatory and racist banners and threw objects on the pitch' during the Oct. 29 fixture in Tirana against reigning champions, Korça-based Skenderbeu whom they lost 2-0 to also lose the championship lead

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TIRANA, Nov. 1 - Albania's football association has ordered Tirana-based Partizani to play two games behind closed doors over racist behavior after fans displayed an anti-Greek banner at an Albanian Superliga fixture earlier this week.

The disciplinary committee of the Albanian Football Association says Partizani fans displayed 'derogatory and racist banners and threw objects on the pitch' during the Oct. 29 fixture in Tirana against reigning champions, Korà§a-based Skenderbeu whom they lost 2-0 to also lose the championship lead.

Partizani fans displayed a racist banner reading "One Greek less, one bastard less" in a heated atmosphere triggered by the killing of a Greek-Albanian dual citizen in a southern Albanian ethnic Greek-inhabited village after opening fire on police officers.

The killing of the 35-year Greek minority citizen on Oct. 28 promoted several protests in neighboring Greece this week, mostly by supporters of Greek far-right political groups.

The Greek minority represents about 1 percent of Albania’s total resident population, with an estimated 24,000 residents, according to Albania’s latest 2011 population census, although minority representatives claim the figure is much higher.

Meanwhile, an estimated 500,000 Albanians live and work in neighboring Greece, making it the largest foreign community there following a migration exodus that began in the early 1990s soon after the collapse of Albania’s communist regime. An estimated 200,000 Albanians have obtained Greek citizenship during the past quarter of a century.

Greece has been Albania’s traditional top foreign investor, second main trading partner and a key source of remittances since the early 1990s.

Reacting to the decision by the disciplinary committee, Tirana-based Partizani said it distanced itself from such fan episode, describing the sanction as ‘collective punishment due to the action of a handful of irresponsible individuals that do not represent Partizani and whom the club immediately took measures to get out of the stadium.’

Partizani lost 2-0 at home to reigning champions Skenderbeu this week to lose their temporary lead and drop to second, trailing leaders Skenderbeu by one point in the first 10 games.

With another 26 games remaining, Tirana-based Partizani, one of Albania’s elite clubs who have been Superliga trophyless since the early 1990s, are one of the top favorites to make it this year due to main rivals Skenderbeu in financial straits and facing a tough European competition ban.

Skenderbeu, who have dominated Albanian football in the past decade, claiming seven titles and becoming the first ever Albania club to make it to the Europa League group stage with two appearance in the 2015-16 and 2017-18 campaigns, have been banned from European competition by European football's governing body, UEFA, for 10 years over match fixing and are now awaiting a final say by Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport over their appeal.

Partizani take to this year's campaign in an Albanian-led team after a failed short-term experience with an Italian duo last year.

Partizani's 2017-18 campaign project with Lucciano Moggi, the former Juventus managing director who is suffering a lifetime ban from Italian football for his role in the 2006 ‘Calciopoli’ match-fixing scandal, and former Juventus player Mark Iuliano who only had a short spell as Partizani coach, failed to produce any result with Partizani ranking fifth and failing to progress through the Europa League qualification campaign last season.

Meanwhile, Albania’s historically most successful club, Tirana, continue facing problems this season, following their Superliga comeback after an embarrassing first-ever relegation last season.

A couple of weeks ago, Tirana sacked Brazilian coach Ze Maria who led them to Superliga promotion but managed to get one point in the last two games under a new Albanian coach to see themselves rank seventh with nine points from 10 matches, just above the relegation zone.

The Albanian Superliga features 10 teams, two of which are relegated following a four-stage 36-game championship.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times November 1, 2018 12:57