Lokomotiv Moscow apologise for anti-Albanian chants at Europa game
Russian football club Lokomotiv Moscow issued an apology on Friday after their fans chanted discriminatory slogans during a Europa League game.
Some Lokomotiv fans chanted anti-Albanian slogans during the team's 2-0 home win over Albanian club Skenderbeu on Thursday. Anti-Albanian feeling is common among Russian nationalist football fan groups, who are typically strong supporters of Serbia's claim to Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and is largely inhabited by ethnic Albanians.
"The atmosphere at the stadium was darkened by a group of people who chanted political slogans and incitements to violence. Lokomotiv FC deeply regrets what happened," Lokomotiv said in a statement on the club website Friday. "We apologise to the team and fans of Skenderbeu for what happened at our stadium."
Lokomotiv also said the perpetrators would be punished under Russian law and promised to prevent further incidents.
Skenderbeu said they officially complained to UEFA immediately after the match.
"Disciplinary steps from UEFA are expected now," club general manager Gerhard Takaj told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Skenderbeu's players and officials expressed anger and said the referee had been informed of the racist chants during the game.
"I am so sorry for the racism shown from part of the fans as everything was going OK. Those chants have nothing to do with football and I hope something is done for them," Skenderbeu's Croatian defender Marko Radas said on the club's website.
UEFA said it is still waiting to receive official reports from its representatives at the match and that any disciplinary proceedings will only be announced next week. UEFA punishments for discrimination offenses commonly include partial or full stadium closures for following matches.
Last season, CSKA Moscow was forced to play three Champions League home games in an empty stadium under UEFA rulings on a string of incidents related to fan violence and discrimination.