FIFA opens case against Serbia over flag denying Kosovo’s independence

FIFA opened, Saturday, November 26, a disciplinary procedure against the Serbian Football Federation, because of the flag placing Kosovo in Serbia exhibited in the locker room of the “White Eagles” before their match lost Thursday against Brazil (2-0) at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. FIFA does not cite specific violations of its disciplinary code, but relies on the general obligation to “fair play and non-violence” imposed on the thirty-two participants in the tournament.

The scale of sanctions that can be imposed on the federations ranges from a meeting behind closed doors to a defeat by forfeit, without FIFA indicating where the gravity of the fault alleged against the Serbs lies.

“chauvinistic rhetoric”

The offending photograph shows a map of Kosovo printed on a square of white fabric hanging from two coat hooks. Kosovo is stamped with the flag of Serbia and the inscription “there will be no surrender”. The dissemination of the snapshot led to an official protest on Friday from Kosovo, via its sports minister, Hajrulla Ceku, who denounced “shameful images” relaying “hateful, xenophobic and genocidal messages”.

In a tweet commenting on the image, Kosovar Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Daulina Osmani, judged that “Serbia’s chauvinistic rhetoric against the Republic of Kosovo, through sport and in an official forum, is an aggressive act against human and sporting values, which must be condemned. Doing nothing is, in itself, a very telling position”.

“We expect concrete actions from FIFA of which Kosovo is a full member”, specified for his part the Minister of Sports. The Football Federation of Kosovo (FFK) has announced that it has filed a complaint with FIFA against “Serbia’s aggressive action”. This act “has no place in sporting events and even less inside the venues where the biggest football event in the world takes place”denounced the FFK.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, unilaterally. The Serbian government, supported by China and Russia, refused to recognize it, unlike the United States and most European countries.

Le Monde with AP and AFP

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