FA liaising with authorities amid talk Albania v England game could be cancelled

Andy Hampson, PA
·2-min read

The Football Association is liaising closely with its Albanian counterpart following suggestions England’s World Cup qualifier in Tirana on Sunday is at risk of being called off.

The Albanian Football Association has issued a statement saying it has been informed by local police that the force cannot guarantee the safety of the teams.

The AFA has called for authorities to address the issue as a matter of urgency as cancellation of the fixture would be “catastrophic” for the image of Albania and its football.

Gareth Southgate's England side face San Marino on Thursday before heading to Albania
Gareth Southgate’s England side face San Marino on Thursday before heading to Albania (Nick Potts/PA)

A spokesperson for the FA said: “We will continue to liaise with the relevant authorities.”

The issue has arisen after the AFA requested a restricted number of fans vaccinated against Covid-19 be permitted to attend the game.

This was rejected by government and the Group I match at the Air Albania Stadium is to be played behind closed doors.

Yet with no other lockdown measures currently in place in Albania, the area around the stadium could be busy.

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The AFA statement read: “Today in the Albanian Football Federation a letter arrived from the local police directorate of Tirana which states that the structures of the local police directorate of Tirana do not guarantee the taking of measures before, during and after the Albania-England match on March 28.

“Faced with the situation where the state authorities did not react after the request of the Albanian Football Federation for the release of spaces on the perimeter of the national stadium, we request urgent response of these structures.

“The cancellation of the Albania-England match scheduled to be played at Air Albania Stadium would have catastrophic consequences for the image of our country, the national team and in general for Albanian football.”

The England squad are due to travel to Albania on Saturday after opening their campaign against San Marino at Wembley on Thursday. Albania are also in action on Thursday away to Andorra.