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Romania’s Football Chiefs Condemn Far-Right Fans’ Anti-Kosovo Chants

The Romanian Football Federation, FRF, on Wednesday condemned far-right fans who chanted political slogans at Tuesday night’s match between Romania and Kosovo, and at the same time congratulated the other approximately 30,000 fans who booed the few hundred “ultras” and applauded the Romanian team.

“Revisionism is not accepted in football, and the FRF firmly condemns provocative messages of a political, ideological, religious or insulting nature, which are categorically prohibited in stadiums,” stated the FRF.

The Romania-Kosovo match was interrupted on Tuesday evening for about 45 minutes due to the chanting of several hundred fan ultras who call themselves “United under the Tricoloured Flag [of Romania]”, and who displayed banners with political messages.

The ultras displayed two banners on which the messages “Kosovo is Serbia” and “Bessarabia [Moldova] is Romania” were written, suggesting the former Serbian province of Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008, belongs to Serbia and that Moldova belongs to Romania.

Moldova was part of Romania in the interwar period, was annexed after World War II by the Soviet Union and is now an independent state.

One of the prominent founding members of “United under the Tricoloured Flag” is George Simion, leader of the  far-right Alliance for the Union of the Romanians, AUR. The party scores about 20 per cent in the polls in Romania, pedalling populist themes that exploit discontent in society.

“United under the Tricoloured Flag” supporters express political views and nationalist attitudes similar to those of the extreme right. The group consists mainly of young men dressed in black and known for violent behaviour. They accompany the Romanian team at home or away matches and are very vocal.

On their Facebook page, the group is liked by 34,000 people and has 36,000 followers. The page is loaded with photos and videos of the group at the matches of the Romanian national team.

In the 18th minute of Tuesday’s match, the ultras threw firecrackers and lighted torches behind Kosovar goalkeeper Arijanet Muric, after which the French referee, Willy Delajod, decided to halt the game.

Before the match against Kosovo on Tuesday, the ultras displayed a message announcing that they would take revenge for the treatment they’d received at match in Kosovo on June 16, when they’d chanted the same offensive message about Kosovo. At that time, Kosovar fan ultras had booed the Romanian anthem and insulted the Romanian players.

“The tricolours will meet the football representative of a region [Kosovo] that Romania does not recognize as an independent state, respecting the historical truth, according to which this territory was illegitimately separated from our neighbouring country, Serbia.

“We perceive today’s adversary as one without legitimacy, separated by foreign interests from the motherland, just as Bessarabia was repeatedly stolen from our country by the ‘monster from the East [Russia],’” the ultras wrote on their Facebook page.

Most of the 30,000 people in the stands in Bucharest condemned the behaviour of the ultras, shouting at them: “Out, out!”. Commentators of the match also criticised the attitude of the ultras, stating that they had harmed the national team.

Immediately after the interruption of the match, the captain of the Romanian team, Nicolae Stanciu, went to the gallery of the ultras and asked them to stop their chants because the referee could cancel the match altogether. “Nicule, we shouldn’t have played this match!” they told Stanciu, according to Antena 3, the TV station that broadcasted the match.

After the match, Romania’s National Council for Combating Discrimination, CNCD, said political chants have no place at a football game.

“These geopolitical messages have no business in sports… Playing without spectators means a massive financial loss… Sport is sport, and politics should manifest itself outside the stadiums, in the television studio,” said its president, Csaba Asztalos.

The Romanian team now risks playing a home match without spectators following a UEFA decision that will analyze the case. The team was fined 15,000 euros after xenophobic chants were heard in a previous game against Belarus, made by the same ultras.

On the trip from Andorra to a Romanian match on March 25, 2023, “United under the Tricoloured Flag” ultras caused a fight among themselves, which required the stewards’ intervention.

Source : Balkaninsight