Serbia faces FIFA discipline over Kosovo flag
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FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Serbia’s football association after their team hung a controversial flag representing Kosovo in their dressing room before their World Cup defeat to Brazil.
The flag showed an outline of Kosovo filled with the flag of Serbia, with the words “no surrender”.
The tensions are high current between ethnic Serbs and the Albanian-led government in Kosovo, amid fears that violence could flare up again, 23 years after the Kosovo war.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Russia’s ally Serbia does not recognize it as an independent country.
On Friday, the Football Federation of Kosovo (FFK) lodged a complaint with Fifa, soccer’s world governing body, over Serbia’s “sexist rhetoric”.
In a statement, he said: “Such acts of masculinity have no place at a sporting event, let alone inside the premises where the biggest event in world football takes place, so FFK, as an equal member to all other members of FIFA. demands from this institution that punitive measures be taken against actions that incite hatred between peoples and that go against human values.”
He added: “It is unacceptable for this act to pass in silence, therefore we strongly demand that Fifa strictly implement its rules and punish the Serbian football federation for this aggressive action and against the values that football conveys.”
Kosovo Sports Minister Hajrulla Ceku said she expected “concrete actions” from FIFA against Serbia’s “hateful, xenophobic and genocidal messages”.
FIFA’s proceedings were opened on the basis of Article 11 of the FIFA disciplinary code, which is “offensive behavior and violation of the principles of fair play” and includes “using a sporting event for demonstrations of a non-sporting nature “, as well as article four of the regulations of the World Cup 2022 which refers to the responsibilities of the team in the tournament.
Kosovo was accepted into UEFA and FIFA in 2016, but under UEFA rules, Serbia and Kosovo cannot play in World Cup qualifiers due to tensions between the two countries.
Serbia were beaten 2-0 by Brazil in their World Cup opener in Qatar on Thursday, and will play Cameroon in their next Group G game on Monday.
Kosovo did not qualify for the World Cup.
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