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Montenegro Fires National Soccer Coach Who Skipped Game Against Kosovo


Coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic in Belgrade in November
Coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic in Belgrade in November

Montenegro has fired its Serbian coach after he refused to take part in a Euro 2020 qualifier against Kosovo, the country's soccer association announced on June 8.

Ljubisa Tumbakovic was not on the bench for the match on June 7, which ended in a 1-1 tie. Two Montenegrin players who were born in Serbia, Filip Stojkovic and Mirko Ivanic, also skipped the match.

"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.

Montenegro's Serbian Coach, Two Players Snub Euro 2020 Match Against Kosovo
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"Apart from being an unpleasant surprise, Tumbakovic's move also constitutes a breach of his professional duties stipulated by his contract," the FSCG added.

The Podgorica daily Vijesti suggested that pressure from fan groups in Serbia prompted Tumbakovic, as well as Stojkovic and Ivanic, to skip the match against Kosovo.

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

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

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

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP