It is no secret that the beautiful football game can occasionally descend into chaos. On Friday, Serbia and Switzerland faced off in a vital World Cup qualifying fixture. The match was anything but ordinary, though, as it ended in ugly scenes following a heated confrontation between players from both sides.
FIFA has initiated disciplinary proceedings over Serbia on three offenses related to their contentious loss to Switzerland in the group stage.
After a 3-2 defeat on Friday, Serbia was knocked out of the FIFA World Cup competition.
They are already the subject of an ongoing investigation for displaying a banner in their dressing room that identified Kosovo as part of their nation’s territory before playing Brazil eight days earlier; now, the governing body has initiated a fresh set of cases for actions that occurred during and around a match whose tensions progressively increased.
FIFA has now confirmed they are to open disciplinary proceedings against Serbia due to the stormy showdown in Qatar 2022. This is surely bad news for the Serbian national team, who will be keen to put this incident behind them as quickly as possible.
It remains to be seen what sanctions FIFA will hand down to them; however, any potential punishment could have far-reaching consequences for their prospects on the international stage.
A FIFA statement read: “The Fifa disciplinary committee has opened proceedings against the Football Association of Serbia due to potential breaches of articles 12 (misconduct of players and officials), 13 (discrimination) and 16 (order and security at matches) of the fifa disciplinary code related to incidents during the Serbia v Switzerland World Cup match that took place on December.”
At the 77th-minute mark of the game, an announcement was made over the public address system asking the crowd to avoid “discriminatory chants and gestures.”
An eyewitness afterward made the allegation that supporters of Serbia had chanted racist slurs at ethnic Albanians at Stadium 974 and showed fascist slogans. The eyewitness also claimed that a group of fans had attacked him.
The build-up to this match was highly charged from the outset; tensions were high given its importance for both teams involved. Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka had stoked things up before kickoff by claiming that Serbia knows how they play, clearly aiming remarks at his opponents’ physical approach. To make matters worse, an altercation broke out between two sets of players during the warm-up phase.