Oslo, 30 October, 2014 –The renowned Norwegian professor in Balkan studies at the University of Oslo, Svein Mønnesland, considers the xenophobic and insulting slogans used during the Serbia-Albania match in Serbia’s capital Belgrade to be beyond any civilised limit.
It was during the Euro 2016 Qualification that Serbian supporters chanted xenophobic slogans such as “Kill the Albanians” and “Death to Albanians” against the Albanian national team:
“Such slogans are not only xenophobic, they are far beyond any civilized limit. Although football fans are known to be nationalistic, I did not expect that it would be possible today to utter such sentences,” states professor Mønnesland to the Albanian news agency Presheva Jone.
After a drone appeared above the pitch in the 42nd minute in the game, Serbian fans invaded the field and started attacking the Albanian football players causing them injuries.
A chair was used to attack the Albanian football player Bekim Balaj while he was trying to remove the drone from the pitch. The referee Martin Atkinson ordered the teams to leave the pitch due to safety reasons.The Albanian national team claimed they were psychologically and physically unfit to continue the game.
On 24 October, Serbia was awarded a 3-0 win over Albania, but deducted the Serbian national team 3 points following the incidents that took place in Belgrade.
Both the Serbian and Albanian football federations have announced they will appeal the decision.
Furthermore, professor Mønnesland pronounces to Presheva Jone that sports should not be mixed with politics. In addition to the drone incident, Serbian supporters brought banners referring to Kosovo as being part of Serbia.
“I do not know who was responsible for the drone. In any case it was an unacceptable provocation. Such political demonstrations have nothing to do at a sports arena.“
Aggression between Serbs and Albanians stem from ignorance of the other
Albanians and Serbs have had a troubled relationship for many decades, which have resulted in hatred and mistrust between both sides.
In 2008, Kosovo decided to declare independence from Serbia following Martti Ahtisaari’s, the former UN Special Envoy, proposal who suggesting independence to Kosovo under international supervision following the end of the 1999 Kosovo War.
Serbia has constantly refused to accept Kosovo’s independence, which has now been recognized by the majority of UN member-states.
Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama is planned to visit Serbia in the future, which would make him the first Albanian Prime Minister to visit Serbia since 1946.
The visit is seen as an opportunity to address thorny issues between Serbs and Albanians.
Professor Mønnesland also believes the aggression between Serbs and Albanians is the result of ignorance of the other and encourages Albanian and Serb politicians to cooperate to reduce ethnic tensions.
“It is important that people, i.e. ordinary citizens, show that they do not share the hatred. This can be done in schools, media, etc.
“Aggression between Serbs and Albanians stem from ignorance about the other. Politicians should try hard to find ways of cooperation, because tension is not in the interest of anybody,“ states Professor Mønnesland to the Albanian news agency Presheva Jone. /Blerim Mustafa
Photo credit: Aftenposten, The Times
* This article was written by the author in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not represent the view of Leidar
Link to original article (Presheva Jone, also available below): http://www.preshevajone.com/norwegian-expert-xenophobic-insults-during-serbia-albania-match-beyond-any-civilised-limit/