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25th Mar 2021

England’s game against Albania on Sunday could be cancelled

Charlie Herbert

It’s as a result of fear over the potential lack of police security at the match

England’s World Cup qualifier with Albania on Sunday could be cancelled, it has emerged.

The Albanian FA (AFA) have said that they cannot promise there will be enough police to guarantee the security of both teams, ahead of their scheduled World Cup qualifier against the Three Lions on Sunday.

However, they have also said that cancelling the clash with England would have ‘catastrophic consequences for the image’ of the country.

In the full statement, the AFA said: ‘Today in the Albanian Football Federation a letter arrived from the Local Police Directorate of Tirana which states the structures of the Local Police Directorate Tirana cannot guarantee the taking of measures before, during and after the Albania-England match”

“Faced with the situation where the state authorities did not react after the request of the AFA for the release of spaces on the perimeter of the National Stadium, we request urgent response to these structures.

“The cancellation of the Albania-England match would have catastrophic consequences for the image of our country, the National Team and in general for Albanian Football.”

Whilst the game will take place behind closed doors, there are currently no lockdown measures in place in Albania so many are expected to fill bars and restaurants to watch the game. The AFA had requested for the game to be played in front of a 30% capacity crowd (approximately 6,500 people) but this has been denied by the Albanian government.

Meanwhile a spokesperson for the FA here has said that they have not been informed of any issues at this stage, with officials in London of the opinion that “the matter is an internal dispute between Albanian authorities.”

If the game were to be called off at such short notice it would almost certainly result in a hefty fine and points deduction for Albania, with England potentially being awarded a 3-0 win.

Gareth Southgate’s men kick off their qualification campaign for the 2022 Qatar World Cup on Thursday against San Marino, the lowest ranked team in world football, so will be extremely keen to play the match on Sunday for a sterner footballing test. They are due to arrive in Tirana on Saturday.