England’s World Cup qualifier with Albania in doubt over policing dispute

England’s World Cup qualifier with Albania in doubt over policing dispute

England’s World Cup qualifier with Albania on Sunday is at risk of being cancelled due to security risks in Tirana.

The Three Lions are due to face the Southeastern European nation at the weekend following their opening game with San Marino on Thursday night, but the Albanian Football Association has been informed by local police that the force cannot guarantee the safety of the two teams.

Other than the wearing of face masks being mandatory in public and an imposed night time curfew, there are currently no lockdown measures in place in Albania, so while the game is being played behind closed doors, the surrounding area of the Air Albania Stadium could still be busy.

An AFA statement reads via BBC Sport: “Today a letter arrived 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 28 March.

“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 Air Albania Stadium in Tirana | GENT SHKULLAKU/Getty Images

However, a spokesperson for the English FA has since revealed they have not been informed of any potential problems staging the game.

They added via Sky Sports: “Officials in London believe the matter is an internal dispute between Albanian authorities.

“It would be unprecedented for an international fixture to be called off at this stage in these circumstances and it would be likely to result in a points deduction and fine for Albania.”

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