Albanian referee attacked after penalty award

September 25, 2006

TIRANA, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Fans of Albanian premier division side Flamurtari hurled stones and water bottles and chanted abusive chants towards the referee after he awarded a controversial penalty against them on Sunday.

The Albanian soccer federation said it regretted the violence, which delayed the match for 12 minutes and which they said was started by members of the Flamurtari coaching staff.

The game was level at 1-1 when the referee awarded visiting Teuta Durres a penalty in the 79th minute, which they converted to go 2-1 up.

Members of the Flamurtari bench then ran on the pitch towards the referee and the fans started chanting sexually-abusive chants at him and throwing stones.

As the coaches were led away by police a fan punched a linesman and at least one policeman was hit with a water-bottle.

Vlore Mayor Shpetim Gjika intervened to calm the situation and allow the match to proceed - with the visitors holding on to win 2-1.

When it ended Gjika walked in front of the referee, who was surrounded by a dozen policemen, appealing to the fans not to hurl objects.

Police also escorted the match officials out of town after fans briefly blocked its palm-lined boulevard.

'We were not beaten by the rival team but by the referee and linesmen who allowed a offside goal and gave a penalty only the referee saw,' complained Flamurtari coach Agim Canaj.

Despite the judgement of the referee, this type of violence is unjustifiable,' said Bujar Pregja, head of the referees' association.