Fast Midfielder wrote:
Imho UEFA have to give following punishments:
+ both Albanian players who attacked Mitrovic should be suspended for 6 or 12 months.
+ as these Albanian players started the disturbance, Albania should be deducted 3 points.
+ as Serbian stewards were not able to stop the crowd entering the field and some Serbian stewards knocked Albanian players, Serbia should play their following 6 home qualifying matches behind closed doors.
I watched the video of this "game". I don't think any players of either team should really be punished severely. A couple maybe for throwing punches in the melee, they can have a red card. The Serbian players mostly behaved well throughout and indeed ushered away invading spectators, to protect the Albanians.
I disagree that Albania should be deducted any points. Unless it can be proved
that the flag was orchestrated by members of the Albanian federation;
then they would have to receive some punishment of course. In my view the Albanians cannot be blamed for refusing to play on. Who would agree to play in such a situation? Imagine the scenes if Albania played on and scored a winning goal in the second half...
The Serbian federation has to be punished because they simply did not provide a safe environment for such a match, which was the main problem from the start.
Personally I think the Serbians have had enough chances already. There were many similar incidents over the years - they just cannot do it. Their crowds always have a large element of racist violent hooligans, and they need to be punished in an effective way so that they actually address this issue properly. I'm sure the issue is in Serbian society and not just in football, but they need to do better. You cannot expect teams to travel to play in this kind of environment. Football is not war and these people need to learn this the hard way.
I say all remaining Serbia home matches behind closed doors, away from Belgrade, and Serbia to forfeit this match 0-3. As a minimum punishment.
Compare the example of the Denmark vs Sweden game, when just one Danish spectator managed to assault the referee. Denmark forfeited the game 0-3 and had restrictions on stadiums in home matches. The events in Serbia were far more serious than this.
You cannot have a situation where players can be attacked by fans on the field. If that happens, you must lose the match. No matter the provocation.
Ultimately, the abandonment of the match was caused by the lack of adequate security. The flag was just a spark to start the fire.
The atmosphere was nasty from the beginning. There was racist chanting ("death to Albanians" etc) and throwing of coins, stones, and flares towards the Albanians, even before the match began, and it continued regularly throughout the first half.
To me it seemed Mitrovic was just trying to help the game continue by pulling down the flag. He did not do anything offensive with it, but perhaps it would have been smarter of him to ask Albanian players to remove it first.
Then Xhaka and Lila rushed to collect the flag from Mitrovic (and Gudelj who was assisting him), to try to "defend the flag" or something. But there was not real fighting of players at that point, some confrontations, but not a full brawl.
Then Balaj and Agolli collected the flag and began running off the field with it when an invading spectator attacked Balaj with a plastic chair. Albanian captain Cana then wrestled the spectator to the ground (he may have punched him also), while more players and spectators arrived to join the melee.
But from what I could see the vast majority of players of both sides were trying to calm the situation and split up the fighting, rather than join the fighting, at that point.
After a minute or two events settled down a bit, then referee Atkinson signalled to both teams to leave the field.
This sparked a second wave of several spectators running on to the field to confront the Albanians, but Serbian players intervened and blocked most of them. More missiles were thrown by the spectators as the Albanians ran off the field and one or two spectators managed to attack them as they entered the tunnel.
The crowd had to be managed with riot police meanwhile, and the match was formally abandoned about 30 minutes later.