Albania and Serbia cross political divide with potential joint bid for U-21 Euros

May 14 – Despite long-standing political tensions over Kosovo, Albania and Serbia have surprisingly joined forces to bid to host the 2027 U-21 European championships.

The Football Federation of Albania has apparently already sent an official candidacy proposal to UEFA.

The Albanian FA (FSHF) described the bid as an “ambitious project”, which would “put Albania in the centre of football attention across the continent” in the first ever venture of its kind in the Balkans.

“Albania is one of the main candidates to organise the U21 European Championship. The FSHF has sent a request to UEFA for Albania to be one of the host countries of this competition,” the federation said.

“Bearing in mind that conditions regarding the number of stadiums required for our country to host all matches are not fulfilled, FSHF will cooperate with the Serbian Football Association to jointly host the final stage of Euro 2027 for U21,” it added.

The possibility of collaboration with Albania was recently mentioned by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić who suggested the tournament could open in the Albanian capital Tirana and end in his country.

And in confirming the joint application, Serbian Football Federation official Branislav Nedimovic said “the idea is to hold final match of the European Championship in Belgrade”.

“The details will be agreed during the entire cycle of negotiations and decision-making. At the moment we have two competitors [to host the 2027 tournament] – Turkey and Belgium,” Nedimovic said.

The proposal comes a decade after a European championship qualifying match between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade was abandoned in the 41st minute when the players clashed with each other amid longstanding enmity between the two countries.

The match was interrupted after a drone carrying a banner with a ‘Greater Albania’ flag was flown over the pitch.

UEFA first declared Serbia had been handed the abandoned match 3-0 but an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport saw the ruling overturned and registered a 3-0 win instead to Albania – a result that helped the country secure its first-ever participation in a European championship in France in 2016.

However, an ultra-nationalist Albanian group of fans known as ‘Plisat’ has already called on Albania to withdraw from the joint candidacy .

“We do not understand why a part of Albania, especially the official part, has set itself the task of rehabilitating the image of Serbia in the eyes of the world!” the fans said in a statement.

“Serbia remains what it was for hundreds of years: genocidal, fascist, anti-Albanian and above all it is still the conqueror of our lands. Therefore, we call on the federation to withdraw from the candidacy and not to continue this matter. You cannot cooperate with a state that still considers Kosovo its own.”

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