October 13 – Two World Cup qualifying games were disrupted by fan violence on Tuesday as the race for places in Qatar intensified.
Poland’s away victory over Albania in Tirana was suspended for more than 20 minutes after home fans threw objects at the visiting players.
Karol Swiderski gave the Poles the lead with 13 minutes remaining in their Group I fixture. But he and his team-mates were then pelted with plastic drinks bottles from the stands, prompting the players to leave the pitch.
Play finally resumed with 13 minutes left and the Poles held on for a priceless victory in the race for second place in their group as they leapfrogged Albania en route for a playoff spot.
Albania are bidding to reach a World Cup finals for the first time and before the incident which prompted the lengthy delay, Poland midfielder Piotr Zielinski was also targeted with an object from the crowd.
A post-match interview with Swiderski was also cut short as Poland manager Jakub Kwiatkowski encouraged him to leave as bottles were again thrown.
In the same group there was also crowd trouble during England’s 1-1 draw with Hungary. Trouble broke out in the visitors’ section of the crowd right at the start after England players had taken the knee. Police were seen wielding batons to hold back the visiting fans.
Disorder by Hungary fans – including racism – during the corresponding home match against England in Budapest last month led to Hungary being ordered to play last Saturday’s game against Albania in an empty stadium.
The second game in a two-match stadium ban was deferred for a probationary period of two years. but England defender Tyrone Mings said he hopes “the punishment this time fits what happened.”
“We are aware of an incident in the away section during tonight’s FIFA 2022 World Cup Qualifier at Wembley Stadium,” an English FA statement said. “We will be investigating and will report the incident to FIFA.”
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