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Serbia threatens to withdraw from Euro 2024

In a dramatic turn of events, Serbia has threatened to pull out of Euro 2024 following inflammatory chanting between fans during the Croatia vs. Albania match on Wednesday.

The chants, which referenced the killing of Serbians, were clearly audible during the 2-2 draw in the Group B encounter.

Jovan Surbatovic, the general secretary of the Football Association of Serbia, has called for decisive action from UEFA, the European governing body for football.

Speaking to Serbian state-owned broadcaster RTS, Surbatovic labeled the incident as “scandalous” and emphasized that Serbia would push for severe sanctions. “What happened is scandalous and we will ask UEFA for sanctions, even if it means not continuing the competition,” he stated.

This development comes on the heels of Serbia’s own turbulent start in Euro 2024, having suffered a 1-0 defeat to England in their Group C opener on Sunday.

Tensions escalated when Kosovar journalist Arlind Sadiku’s credentials were revoked by UEFA after he made a nationalist double-handed eagle gesture towards Serbian fans during the Serbia vs. England match.

This gesture, symbolizing the eagle on Albania’s national flag, has historically provoked tension between Serbian nationalists and ethnic Albanians, particularly in the context of Kosovo.

Surbatovic expressed confidence that UEFA would impose penalties on those responsible, pointing to UEFA’s swift action against Sadiku as a precedent.

“We will demand from UEFA to punish the federations of both selections,” he asserted, suggesting that Serbia might reconsider its participation in the tournament if appropriate sanctions are not enforced.

Serbia was previously fined £12,250 after fans threw objects during the match against England. Additionally, both Serbia and Albania faced fines due to nationalist displays by their fans in their opening matches.

Surbatovic defended the behavior of Serbian fans, arguing that they have been unfairly singled out. “We were punished for isolated cases and our fans behaved much better than the others,” he argued.

“One fan was punished for racist insults and we don’t want it to be attributed to others. We Serbs are gentlemen and we have an open heart, so I appeal to the fans to remain gentlemen.”

As tensions remain high, Serbia’s next match is against Slovenia, scheduled for Thursday at 14:00 BST.