Albania’s Football Federation has vowed to continue its leadership election, despite a court ruling suspending the vote until an investigation into alleged manipulation is over.

Albania Football Federation Continues Leadership Election Despite Court Ruling

A view of the Selman Stermasi stadium during a match between Partizani and Skenderbeu in Tirana, Albania, June 3 2020. Photo: EPA-EFE/Malton Dibra

Albania’s Football Federation will continue its election process despite a court verdict on Thursday which temporarily halted the elections until an investigation into alleged manipulation is completed.

Polemics have marred the election process since last month when Tirana’s mayor, Erion Veliaj, from the ruling Socialist Party, was caught in a wiretap threatening board members ahead of a vote for a new head of the Federation. Veliaj denied he put pressure on elections.

On the evening of January 24, the home of the head of Albanian football’s governing body, Armando Duka, in the coastal town of Durres was targeted with explosives, causing damage but no casualties.

On Thursday, the Court of Tirana suspended the elections for the new President of the Albania Football Federation. But Albania’s football governing body has responded that local courts are not entitled to halt their election processes.

The Federation said that it had continued preparations for an election assembly, approving material which will be distributed to the assembly members.

“Albania’s Football Federation, according to its statute, has scheduled its election assembly for March 2,” Andi Verçani, head of communications at the FSHF, told BIRN on Friday.

“Any side that might have any claim about irregularities in the election process … should address the Committee of Verification, Committee of Appeals and then he Court of Arbitrage for Sports in Lausanne,” Verçani said.

He added that a UEFA delegation had been in Tirana for four days, and took all the necessary documents about elections held in the Football Regional Associations. “They will prepare a report which will be sent to UEFA’s President, Aleksander Ceferin,” Verçani said.

On February 15, Luca Nicola, one of UEFA delegation members, told media that they came to Albania following Ceferin’s visit two weeks ago, when he met Prime Minister Edi Rama. “The objective of our mission is to evaluate the ongoing process of the Albanian Football Federation,” Nicola said.

“This assessment obviously includes an assessment of possible cases of undue influence by third parties in the electoral process. Once the mission has concluded the assessment, we will file a report for the UEFA leadership and, based on these findings, we will communicate the UEFA position to the FSHF,” he added.

The Court decision came amid a tense situation between Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj and the President of the FSHF, Armando Duka. Akademia Luftetari, a football club based in Gjirokastra, was the party that asked for the suspension.

On February 10, Tirana Municipality said that the court approved its request to restructure the regional soccer association to revoke the voting results of its current leadership — which is backed by the FSHF— and register a new leader, claiming manipulation of the voting process by the association’s leadership.

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