Albania threatens to quit boxing championship after Kosovo snub

The Albanian national boxing team has threatened to quit the 2021 World Boxing Championship in Belgrade if Serbia refuses to allow Kosovo to take part.

Over the weekend, Kosovo’s national team was turned away at the Serbian border on three separate occasions. Serbian authorities first refused to let the athletes enter Serbia wearing Kosovo’s national symbols. However, the team was barred entry even after removing their uniforms.

On Saturday, the International Boxing Association released a statement, writing that it “expects that the Kosovo Boxing Federation’s delegation [be] treated no differently than the delegation of any other AIBA member.”

The association also wrote that they are in contact with Serbian authorities to remedy the situation.

However, Kosovo’s team was turned away at the border two further times after AIBA’s statement, and the opening ceremony and the first bouts in Belgrade proceeded without delays.

Albania’s trainer, Zef Gjoni, spoke to Euronews about the situation. He said that he had reached out to Prime Minister Edi Rama and told him that Albania would withdraw from the competition if Kosovo’s exclusion persisted.

According to Gjoni, Serbian fans had thrown lighters and booed the Albanian team during Sunday’s parade in Belgrade.

He also mentioned that police had been stationed at the hotel where the Albanian team is staying for security reasons.