Russia demanded they be awarded a victory after Friday’s Euro 2016 qualifier in Montenegro was abandoned after attacks on their players. The match in Podgorica was halted at 0-0 after 67 minutes after Russia’s Dmitri Kombarov was hit by an object, sparking a brawl between the players. The game had previously been suspended in the first minute when the Russia goalkeeper, Igor Akinfeev, was struck on the head by a flare. He was later treated in hospital for burns. A 25-year-old Montenegro fan suspected of hurling the flare and identified only by the initials LL turned himself in to the police on Saturday accompanied by his lawyer. The Russian Football Union president, Nikolai Tolstykh, said that his organisation would file a protest to UEFA and that “in our view, it should be a technical defeat for Montenegro”. He added that the match should have been abandoned following the attack on Akinfeev, but that UEFA’s match delegate Barry Bright had overruled Russia’s objections. Tolstykh said: “Our team was forced to continue the game.” In addition to the attacks on Akinfeev and Kombarov, the RFU said the midfielder Alan Dzagoev had been struck by coins thrown from the stands while receiving treatment for a thigh injury.
Akinfeev, who also sustained concussion and a neck injury, was treated in a hospital in the Montenegrin capital, but was later cleared to return home. “I want to say thank you to everyone who’s been worrying about me. I feel fine. I hope that nothing similar ever happens again, neither in Montenegro nor in any other country”, Akinfeev said. The general secretary of Montenegro’s FA, Momir Durdevac, described the fans who forced the match to be abandoned as “hypocrites” and “barbarians”. “These fans sing ‘Montenegro we love you’ but throw flares, insult rivals and cause all sorts of incidents every time,” he said. “We have left the impression of barbarians and this is a complete disaster. As far as I’m concerned the game should not have continued after the first-minute incident. We can only thank God that no one was seriously hurt.” Durdevac also questioned whether players will accept future international call-ups amid such an atmosphere. “It’s a human catastrophe, the final straw. What can we do after this? We pay a fine, we say goodbye to a great competition. And then there is a new game, and again there are flares and again there are chants, everything that should not be. Sorry, but I had to say this. Who is going to come to play for the national team under these conditions?” UEFA said it would not opening formal proceedings before receiving reports from the match delegate and referee.
It is not the first time a match has been abandoned in this campaign, with Serbia and Albania’s meeting in October called off after a brawl broke out when a drone was flown over the pitch. The latest incident comes after the UEFA president, Michel Platini, warned of a return to the “dark days” of hooliganism, and a rising trend of “nationalism and extremism”.
Source: BBC/The Guardian