FIFA charges Serbia for team, fans’ misconduct amid claims of ‘racism’ at Switzerland game

The latest faceoff came after Switzerland beat Serbia during a previous World Cup game.

Serbia is facing disciplinary charges by FIFA over the alleged misconduct of players and fans during its Friday match against Switzerland, the Associated Press (AP) reported on Monday.

The development came after Serbia fans reportedly chanted “racist and fascist” slogans targeting Albanians, per numerous witness testimonies. 

An eyewitness also told The Observer, The Guardian’s sister paper, that he saw such slogans and flags at Stadium 974, where Switzerland secured the last spot at the round of 16 in a crushing 3-2 win over Serbia.

Hasan Rrahmani shared photographic evidence from the incident, where one Serbia supporter was wearing a green hat linked to crimes committed during the wars in Kosovo and Bosnia. 

The report also claimed that songs using derogatory anti-Albania terms were heard at the stadium, as some chanted “Kill, kill, kill the Albanians”. Some even allegedly sang “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia”, echoing Belgrade’s refusal to recognise Albanian-majority Kosovo’s sovereignty.

“It would start in one corner and the rest of the fans would pick it up,” Rrahmani said, adding that the fans “were singing the most vile racist chants.”

According to The Guardian, FIFA had issued a public message during the game’s 77th minute requesting the halt of “discriminatory chants and gestures”.

A heated confrontation between Serbia’s players and Swiss captain Granit Xhaka, with roots in Kosovo, also took place during the intense game. 

Serbia fans also verbally targeted Switzerland player Xherdan Shaqiri, who scored the opening goal, during the first half. Shaqiri also has ethnic Albanian roots.

FIFA did not specify the exact cases of misconduct that occurred during the game, according to AP.

Outside of the stadium, “seven or eight” Serbia fans proceeded to verbally abuse Rrahmani with offensive terms and “shoved him” as he retrieved his Albanian flag, which he claimed was taken from him. 

The attack continued as Serbia fans used profanity and racist slurs against Rrahmani.

“They threw water at me. I tried to walk away but seven or eight big blokes followed me. In the end I ran towards the police, who didn’t do anything. Everything that happened around the evening was just frightening. What I expected to be a good night rekindled all those memories of the past that I thought had gone,” he said.

Rrahmani noted that the police “were polite and reassuring”. 

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