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FIFA launched an investigation into the behaviour of Serbian teams and fans at the World Cup

Serbia shows up in the stands of Serbian fans during the World Cup match against Switzerland during the World Cup in Qatar (December 2, 2022)
Serbia shows up in the stands of Serbian fans during the World Cup match against Switzerland during the World Cup in Qatar (December 2, 2022)

FIFA on Monday announced an investigation into allegations of misconduct by Serbia’s players, managers, and fans following last week’s defeat against Switzerland.

The Kosovo Football Association has previously complained about offensive shouting against two members of the Swiss team who are of Albanian origin and have relatives in Kosovo. Serbia was eliminated on December 2 in a 3-2 defeat in this match.

FIFA said in a statement that its disciplinary committee had opened an investigation into the Serbian Football Association “for possible violations of articles 12 (misconduct by players and officials), 13 (discrimination) and 16 (order and safety of the game) of the FIFA disciplinary code.”

This is the second time FIFA has opened an investigative process against a Serbian team during the 2022 World Cup. The first was after Serbia played Brazil on November 26 after a flag showing that Kosovo was part of Serbia in the Serbian team’s dressing room.

Serbia manager Dragan Stojkovic told a news conference on Monday after the national team returned home from Qatar that he had no comment on FIFA’s latest move.

In its complaint, the Kosovo Football Association considered the incidents to be nationalistic.

The president of the Kosovo Football Association, Agim Ademi, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “It is good that FIFA takes this seriously. The

Serbian Football Association and the Serbian Ministry of Sports did not respond to requests for comment from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

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The Kosovo Football Association asked FIFA to respond to “the serious insults of Serbian coaches and the ethnic actions of Serbian fans.” Switzerland’s captain, Granit Xhaka, and Xherdan Shaqiri, who scored the first goal of the match, both have Kosovar roots.

More than 10 years after the declaration of independence, Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s sovereignty. Kosovo has been a member of FIFA and the Federation of European Football Associations since 2016.

The FIFA statement said “ethnic shouts against Albanians” and “political message slogans” were heard throughout the match.

Serbia also broke into the field when the referee did not video-check their penalty appeal in the second half of the match.

FIFA did not provide a timeline for the investigation. Serbia could face any punishment from FIFA when it plays in the European Champions Cup qualifiers in March.

The Kosovo Football Association demanded an investigation and sanctions against the Serbian Football Association, “so that all fascist cries disappear completely from football stadiums at events like the World Cup.” 

The association said in a statement that the demeanor and hatred of the teams and fans “should not have a place at an important sporting event like the Qatar World Cup.”

(Part of this article is based on an Associated Press report.)

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