Player Leads Crowd in Nationalist Cheers

Albania's Mirlind Daku has to sit out two games at Euro 24
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2024 3:15 PM CDT
Player Leads Crowd in Nationalist Cheers
Albania's Mirlind Daku, center, controls the ball ahead Croatia's Martin Baturina during a Group B match between Croatia and Albania at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Hamburg, Germany, Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

A player on Albania's national soccer team has been suspended for two games after leading fans in nationalistic chants after a Euro 24 match. Mirlind Daku used a megaphone when his team's match against Croatia in Hamburg ended in a draw Wednesday, shouting anti-North Macedonia and anti-Serbia taunts and joining in disparaging songs, ESPN reports. The striker was suspended by UEFA for two games. He "failed to comply with the general principles of conduct, violated the basic rules of decent conduct, used sports events for manifestations of a non-sporting nature and brought the sport of football into disrepute," a statement said.

The Albania Football Association also was fined for "transmitting provocative messages not fit for a sports event," per the BBC. Daku, who was born in Kosovo, apologized before the punishment was assessed Sunday, per the Guardian. UEFA said it's still investigating "potential racist and/or discriminatory conducts by supporters in this match." The Football Association of Serbia denounced the "shameful racist behavior" of fans and threatened to quit the tournament if UEFA failed to address the matter. (More Euro 2024 stories.)

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