Skip to Content Facebook Feature Image

Serbia FA threatens to quit Euros if UEFA does not punish Croats and Albanians over chants

Sport

Serbia FA threatens to quit Euros if UEFA does not punish Croats and Albanians over chants
Sport

Sport

Serbia FA threatens to quit Euros if UEFA does not punish Croats and Albanians over chants

2024-06-21 05:33 Last Updated At:05:41

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia soccer officials threatened their team could quit the European Championship after they were offended by fan chants reportedly heard during the Albania-Croatia match.

The game on Wednesday ended 2-2 in Hamburg, and Albanian and Croatia fans were reportedly heard teaming up during play to sing a slogan in Serbian.

Hours after Serbia played its second group match Thursday, against Slovenia in Munich, European soccer body UEFA said it asked an in-house investigator to look at the allegations.

A disciplinary inspector was appointed, UEFA said, “to conduct an investigation regarding potential racist and/or discriminatory conduct by supporters that allegedly occurred.”

UEFA gave no timeline for the case, which is unlikely to be resolved before Serbia's third and potentially last game — on Tuesday against Denmark.

"What happened is scandalous and we will ask UEFA for sanctions, even at the cost of not continuing the competition,” Serbia Football Association general secretary Jovan Surbatovic said.

"We will request UEFA to punish the federations of both teams. We don’t want to participate in that, but if UEFA doesn’t punish them, we will think about how to proceed.”

In a separate statement on Thursday, the Serbia FA condemned the “shameful racist behavior” of the Albanian and Croatian fans and said the match should have been suspended as soon as the chants started.

“Such insulting of a nation with cries that they should be killed has not been seen at sports events for a long time,” the statement added.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin was with Serbian officials in Munich at the game Thursday against his home country Slovenia, which ended 1-1.

UEFA tournament rules for Euro 2024 call for sanctions against teams refusing to play, and a federation that is “responsible for a match not taking place or not being played in full loses all rights to payments from UEFA.”

Serbia is due to receive at least 9.25 million euros ($9.9 million) from a tournament prize fund of 331 million euros ($355 million) paid from UEFA revenues for broadcast and sponsor deals, plus ticket sales. The Serbia FA also would be liable to pay compensation and face further disciplinary action.

The animosity between Croatian and Albanian fans toward the Serbs, and vice versa, dates to the 1990s wars in the Balkans.

Serbian fans are notorious for their chants against the Croats and Albanians as well as racist shouts and vocal support of convicted war criminals responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands during the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

UEFA fined the Albanian and Serbian federations 10,000 euros ($10,700) each after their first group matches for fans displaying banners with nationalist maps.

Each federation is responsible for the conduct of its fans, and UEFA charged Serbia and Albania with “transmitting provocative messages not fit for a sports event.”

Albania fans displayed a banner with a map of their country extending its borders into the territory of neighboring countries. It was shown on Saturday during the 2-1 loss against Italy in Dortmund.

A Serbia fans banner included the territory of Kosovo, a former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008, and a slogan, “No Surrender,” in the 1-0 loss against England in Gelsenkirchen.

UEFA has also launched an investigation into claims of monkey chants aimed at England players during the clash.

AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024

Croatian supporters light a flare as they cheer during a Group B match between Croatia and Albania at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Hamburg, Germany, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Croatian supporters light a flare as they cheer during a Group B match between Croatia and Albania at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Hamburg, Germany, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Croatian supporters light a flare as they cheer during a Group B match between Croatia and Albania at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Hamburg, Germany, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Croatian supporters light a flare as they cheer during a Group B match between Croatia and Albania at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Hamburg, Germany, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Serbia's fans chant ahead of a Group C match between Serbia and England at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Sunday, June 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

Serbia's fans chant ahead of a Group C match between Serbia and England at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Sunday, June 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats at the highest levels are making a critical push for President Joe Biden to rethink his election bid, with former President Barack Obama expressing concerns to allies and Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi privately telling Biden the party could lose the ability to seize control of the House if he doesn’t step away from the 2024 race.

Biden’s orbit, already small before his debate fumbling, has grown even smaller in recent days. Isolated as he battles a COVID infection at home in Delaware, the president is relying on a few longtime aides as he weighs whether to bow to the mounting pressure to drop out.

Late Thursday, Montana Sen. Jon Tester became the second Democrat in the chamber — and now among nearly two dozen in Congress — calling on him to bow out, saying, “Biden should not seek reelection to another term.”

The Biden For President campaign is calling an all-staff meeting for Friday. It's heading into a critical weekend for the party as Republican Donald Trump wraps up a heady Republican National Convention in Milwaukee and Democrats, racing time, consider the extraordinary possibility of Biden stepping aside for a new presidential nominee before their own convention next month in Chicago.

As anxiety and information swirled, Biden’s closest friend in Congress and his campaign co-chair, Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, told The Associated Press, “President Biden deserves the respect to have important family conversations with members of the caucus and colleagues in the House and Senate and Democratic leadership and not be battling leaks and press statements.”

The reporting in this story is based in part on information from almost a dozen people who insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive private deliberations. The Washington Post first reported on Obama’s involvement.

Campaign officials said Biden was even more committed to staying in the race even as the calls for him to go mounted. And senior West Wing aides have had no internal discussions or conversations with the president about Biden dropping out. On Friday, the Democratic National Committee 's rulemaking arm expects to meet to discuss plans for the virtual roll call nominating the president in early August, ahead of the party's convention later that month.

But there is also time to reconsider. Biden has been told the campaign is having trouble raising money, and key Democrats see an opportunity as he is away from the campaign for a few days to encourage his exit. Among his Cabinet, some are resigned to the likelihood of him losing in November.

Biden, 81, tested positive for COVID-19 while traveling in Las Vegas earlier this week and is experiencing “mild symptoms” including “general malaise” from the infection, the White House said.

The president himself, in a radio interview taped just before he tested positive, dismissed the idea it was too late for him to recover politically, telling Univision’s Luis Sandoval that many people don’t focus on the November election until September.

“All the talk about who’s leading and where and how, is kind of, you know — everything so far between Trump and me has been basically even,” he said in an excerpt of the interview released Thursday.

But in Congress, Democratic lawmakers have begun having private conversations about lining up behind Vice President Kamala Harris as an alternative. One lawmaker said Biden’s own advisers are unable to reach a unanimous recommendation about what he should do. More in Congress are considering joining the others who have called for Biden to drop out.

“It’s clear the issue won’t go away,” said Vermont Sen. Peter Welch, the other Senate Democrat who has publicly said Biden should exit the race. Welch said the current state of party angst – with lawmakers panicking and donors revolting – was “not sustainable.”

Obama has conveyed to allies that Biden needs to consider the viability of his campaign but has also made clear that the decision is one Biden needs to make. The former president has taken calls in recent days from members of congressional leadership, Democratic governors and key donors to discuss their concerns about his former vice president.

Biden said Monday he hadn’t spoken to Obama in a couple of weeks.

Pelosi also presented polling to Biden that she argued shows he likely can’t defeat Republican Trump — though the former speaker countered Thursday in a sharp statement that the “feeding frenzy” from anonymous sources “misrepresents any conversations” she may have had with the president.

Pressed about reports that Biden might be softening to the idea of leaving the race, his deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks said Thursday, “He is not wavering on anything.”

However, influential Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries are sending signals of strong concern.

Using mountains of data showing Biden’s standing could seriously damage the ranks of Democrats in Congress, frank conversations in public and private and now the president’s own few days of isolation, many Democrats see an opportunity to encourage a reassessment.

Over the past week, Schumer and Jeffries, both of New York, have spoken privately to the president, candidly laying out the concerns of Democrats on Capitol Hill. Control of the House and Senate is at stake, and leaders are keenly aware that a Republican sweep in November could launch Trump's agenda for years to come.

Separately, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Suzan DelBene of Washington, spoke with the president last week and aired the concerns of front-line Democrats seeking election to the House.

Major political donors, particularly in Pelosi’s California, have been putting heavy pressure on the president’s campaign and members of Congress, according to one Democratic strategist. Schumer has told donors and others to bring their concerns directly to the White House.

And Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland used a baseball metaphor to suggest in a recent letter to Biden, “There is no shame in taking a well-deserved bow to the overflowing appreciation of the crowd.”

To be sure, many want Biden to stay in the race. And the Democratic National Committee is pushing ahead with plans for a virtual vote to formally make Biden its nominee in the first week of August, ahead of the Democratic National Convention, which begins Aug. 19.

Rep. James Clyburn, a senior Democrat and key Biden ally, wrapped up several days of campaigning for Biden in Nevada and said: “Joe Biden has the knowledge. He’s demonstrated that time and time again.” He warned against those who he said “have an agenda."

But among Democrats nationwide, nearly two-thirds say Biden should step aside and let his party nominate a different candidate, according to an AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. That sharply undercuts Biden's post-debate claim that “average Democrats” are still with him.

The Biden campaign pointed to what it called “extensive support” for his reelection from legislators in key swing states as well as from the Congressional Black and Hispanic caucuses.

Other Democrats in Congress have shown less support, including when Biden's top aides visited Democratic senators last week in a private lunch. When Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania asked for a show of hands on who was with the president, only his own and a couple others including top Biden ally Coons went up, according to one of the people granted anonymity to discuss the matter.

Associated Press writers Joey Cappelletti in Lansing, Mich., Ellen Knickmeyer in Aspen, Colorado, Steve Peoples in Milwaukee, and Josh Boak, Will Weissert, Mary Clare Jalonick, Seung Min Kim and Stephen Groves in Washington contributed to this report.

Supporters cheer during the Republican National Convention Thursday, July 18, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Supporters cheer during the Republican National Convention Thursday, July 18, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

FILE - Chairman Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 2, 2023. Jittery Democrats seeking to hold onto Senate seats are watching the drama over Biden nervously. Even candidates who seem to be in a strong position are walking a fine line between loyalty to the president and their own political survival. Tester has offered little public support for the president since the debate. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

FILE - Chairman Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 2, 2023. Jittery Democrats seeking to hold onto Senate seats are watching the drama over Biden nervously. Even candidates who seem to be in a strong position are walking a fine line between loyalty to the president and their own political survival. Tester has offered little public support for the president since the debate. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

The memorandum released by the White House from President Joe Biden's physician Kevin C. O'Connor to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre is photographed Thursday, July 18, 2024. O'Connor says that Biden continues to experience mild upper respiratory symptoms due to COVID-19, but doesn't have a fever and his vital signs are normal. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

The memorandum released by the White House from President Joe Biden's physician Kevin C. O'Connor to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre is photographed Thursday, July 18, 2024. O'Connor says that Biden continues to experience mild upper respiratory symptoms due to COVID-19, but doesn't have a fever and his vital signs are normal. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks at the 115th NAACP National Convention in Las Vegas, July 16, 2024. Democrats at the highest levels are making a critical push for Biden to reconsider his election bid. Former President Barack Obama has privately expressed concerns to Democrats about Biden's candidacy. And Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi privately warned Biden that Democrats could lose the ability to seize control in the House if he didn't step away from the race. Biden says he's not dropping out believing he's best to beat the Republican Trump. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks at the 115th NAACP National Convention in Las Vegas, July 16, 2024. Democrats at the highest levels are making a critical push for Biden to reconsider his election bid. Former President Barack Obama has privately expressed concerns to Democrats about Biden's candidacy. And Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi privately warned Biden that Democrats could lose the ability to seize control in the House if he didn't step away from the race. Biden says he's not dropping out believing he's best to beat the Republican Trump. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

FILE - Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during an event in Washington, June 23, 2023. Democrats at the highest levels are making a critical push for President Joe Biden to reconsider his election bid. Speaker Emerita Pelosi privately warned Biden that Democrats could lose the ability to seize control in the House if he didn’t step away from the race and that polls showed he likely can’t defeat Donald Trump. And former President Barack Obama has privately expressed concerns to Democrats about Biden’s candidacy. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

FILE - Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during an event in Washington, June 23, 2023. Democrats at the highest levels are making a critical push for President Joe Biden to reconsider his election bid. Speaker Emerita Pelosi privately warned Biden that Democrats could lose the ability to seize control in the House if he didn’t step away from the race and that polls showed he likely can’t defeat Donald Trump. And former President Barack Obama has privately expressed concerns to Democrats about Biden’s candidacy. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

FILE - Former President Barack Obama speaks in Athens, Greece, June 21, 2023. Democrats at the highest levels are making a critical push for President Joe Biden to reconsider his election bid. Obama has privately expressed concerns to Democrats about Biden’s candidacy. And Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi privately warned Biden that Democrats could lose the ability to seize control in the House if he didn’t step away from the race and that polls showed he likely can’t defeat Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, File)

FILE - Former President Barack Obama speaks in Athens, Greece, June 21, 2023. Democrats at the highest levels are making a critical push for President Joe Biden to reconsider his election bid. Obama has privately expressed concerns to Democrats about Biden’s candidacy. And Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi privately warned Biden that Democrats could lose the ability to seize control in the House if he didn’t step away from the race and that polls showed he likely can’t defeat Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, File)

President Joe Biden takes the stage to speak at the 115th NAACP National Convention in Las Vegas, Tuesday, July 16, 2024. Biden tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden takes the stage to speak at the 115th NAACP National Convention in Las Vegas, Tuesday, July 16, 2024. Biden tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden walks to his car after stepping off of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. Biden is returning to his home in Rehoboth Beach, Del., to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden walks to his car after stepping off of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. Biden is returning to his home in Rehoboth Beach, Del., to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. Biden is returning to his home in Rehoboth Beach, Del., to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. Biden is returning to his home in Rehoboth Beach, Del., to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden leaves with Rep. Steve Horsford, D-Nev., after visiting Mario's Westside Market in Las Vegas, Tuesday, July 16, 2024.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden leaves with Rep. Steve Horsford, D-Nev., after visiting Mario's Westside Market in Las Vegas, Tuesday, July 16, 2024.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden speaks at a 2024 Prosperity Summit Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in North Las Vegas, Nev. (AP Photo/Ronda Churchill)

President Joe Biden speaks at a 2024 Prosperity Summit Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in North Las Vegas, Nev. (AP Photo/Ronda Churchill)

Recommended Articles