The Albanian national squad saw nearly no support from Albanian fans for their World Cup qualifier in Athens against Greece on 30 March. The Greek FA referred to debts of the Albanian FA in the amount of 7 000 Euro and refused to hand over the usual 5 % of the tickets. The 33 000 tickets had been sold only to Greek fans after showing a national identity cards. The ticket holders had been registered. With no tickets officially sold to Albanian fans, 1,000 Greek police was on guard outside the stadium and boosted patrols around the capital, including areas frequented by Albanian immigrants or Greek ultra-nationalist groups. That had the effect that no tickets was sold to the ethnic minority of Albanians living in Greece.
Greek anti-racism organisations reacted immediately and organised a big vidiwall on Kotzia square in Athens to make it possible for Greeks and Albanians to watch the match in a friendly atmosphere. Information materials on the policy of the Greek FA and anti-racism initiatives in Greece had been distributed on the square and around the stadium.
26 Albanian and Greek writers and actors appealed all fans peace and restraint.
The football match must not be a spring board for racist and hatred offences, it is said in a declaration that was published in Athens and Tirana. The matches between Greece and Albania had become to a
manoeuvre of the ultra-nationalists on both sides. Many Greek football players appealed their national fans for peace.
Greek national team manager, Otto Rehagel, said
Enthusiasm yes, fanaticism no. We must be careful, because if the slightest thing happens, FIFA will punish us. We want our fans to support us, but in the same way they supported us during the Portugal campaign.
At Tuesday's Under-21 game between the teams, fans ripped an Albanian flag and assaulted an Albanian fan, who was slightly hurt, police said. Albanian players refused to play on until the flag was replaced at the central Athens stadium, delaying the start of the second half. Politicians from the neighbouring countries, including Albanian President Alfred Moisiu, have called for calm.
We hope everyone will consider this a soccer match and not be used by people who want to treat it differently, said Armando Duka, head of the Albanian soccer federation, before the match on Wednesday.
After the first match of the qualifying group B for the World Cup 2006 (2:1 for Albania) in September 2004 it came to clashes all over Greece between Greek and Albanian fans. One Albanian was killed, many had been injured in Athens and other cities.