Soccer-Serbia fans in Munich chant anti-Kosovo slogans

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Euro 2024 - Fans gather for Slovenia v Serbia - Munich, Germany - June 20, 2024 Serbia fans are seen outside the stadium before the match REUTERS/Axel Schmidt/File Photo

MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) -A group of Serbia fans chanted "Kosovo is the heart of Serbia" in central Munich's Marienplatz, where they gathered ahead of their team's game with Slovenia, in the latest in a series of political gestures by fans at Euro 2024 relating to the Balkans.

Marienplatz on Thursday was filled with celebrating fans from Serbia and Slovenia, both former Yugoslav states.

Tense political ties between Serbia and Albanian-majority Kosovo and Albania have been reflected in hateful chants, banners and gestures at the tournament, resulting in mutual complaints.

Asked about the political chanting, Serbia fan Damian Woinovic said it had no place in sport.

"We're here to have fun and play sport. And we should leave politics out of it a bit," he said.

Serbia are demanding that European soccer's governing body UEFA punishes Croatia and Albania after accusing their fans of hateful chanting during their clash in Hamburg on Wednesday.

Jovan Surbatovic, General Secretary of the Football Association of Serbia, said a formal complaint had been submitted, claiming that Croatia and Albania fans chanted "Kill, kill, kill the Serb" during the 2-2 draw.

He even threatened that Serbia, themselves charged by UEFA for incidents during their defeat by England last Saturday, could withdraw from the tournament.

Serbia have been charged by UEFA after their supporters displayed a banner of Serbia's national flag which included Kosovo, its former republic, within its borders. UEFA said it "transmitted a provocative message unfit for a sports event".

Independence for ethnic Albanian-majority Kosovo came on Feb. 17, 2008, a decade after a guerrilla uprising against Serbian rule.

Kosovo is recognised by more than 100 countries.

Serbia, however, still formally deems Kosovo to be part of its territory. It accuses Kosovo's central government of trampling on the rights of ethnic Serbs.

On Wednesday UEFA cancelled the media credentials of a Kosovar journalist following complaints about a nationalist gesture he made towards Serbia fans during their game against England on Sunday in Gelsenkirchen.

(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson and Michael Kahn; Editing by Ken Ferris and Pritha Sarkar)

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