June 8, 2019 / 8:19 AM / 3 months ago

Montenegro fire Serbian coach over Kosovo qualifier boycott

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Montenegro have fired their Serbian coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic after he pulled out of Friday’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Kosovo, the country’s football association (FSCG) said on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - UEFA Nations League - League C - Group 4 - Serbia v Montenegro - Rajko Mitic Stadium, Belgrade, Serbia - November 17, 2018 Montenegro coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic REUTERS/Marko Djurica

“The FSCG executive board made an unanimous decision to relieve Tumbakovic of his duties after he decided not to be in charge of the national team for the match,” the FSCG said on its official website.

“Apart from being an unpleasant surprise, Tumbakovic’s move also constitutes a breach of his professional duties stipulated by his contract.

“The executive board also regrets that pressure from certain circles resulted in players Filip Stojkovic and Mirko Ivanic also pulling out of the fixture.

“Things which have nothing to do with sports have defeated sports and football on this occasion.”

Podgorica daily Vijesti suggested that pressure from fan groups from Serbia prompted Tumbakovic as well as Stojkovic and Ivanic, who are both Serbian-born, to skip the match against Kosovo.

None of the three were immediately available for comment.

Kosovo, whose population is more than 90 percent ethnic Albanian, declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and has since been recognised as a sovereign nation by more than 110 countries.

A group of nations, including Serbia, China, five EU members and Russia, have refused to recognise it.

The Group A match, played behind closed doors at Buducnost stadium after Montenegro were given a crowd ban for racist incidents in their 5-1 defeat by England at the same venue in March, ended in a 1-1 draw.

Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Nick Mulvenney

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