Arena Komb√ętare, now under the new official name of Air Albania Stadium, was officially inaugurated with a ceremony on 17 November 2019

Albania v England: World Cup qualifier to go ahead after security issue

England’s World Cup qualifier against Albania in Tirana on Sunday is set to go ahead after an issue over security was resolved.

On Thursday, the Albanian Football Association (AFA) said it had been told by local police that the force could not guarantee the safety of the teams.

However, the county’s state police later issued a statement to say they had “taken all measures to guarantee order and security” for the game.

The teams last met in 2001.

England beat San Marino 5-0 in their first qualifying match on Thursday.

The next fixture is against Albania, followed by Poland next Wednesday.

The issue arose after the AFA’s request for a restricted number of fans vaccinated against Covid-19 to be permitted to attend the game, which was rejected by government.

The Group I match will therefore be played behind closed doors, and with no other lockdown measures in place in the country it meant the area around the Air Albania Stadium would be busy with, at the time, no promise of adequate policing.

The AFA said it would have had “catastrophic consequences for the image of our country, the national team and in general for Albanian football” if it had been forced to cancel the game.

Speaking after the San Marino game, England manager Gareth Southgate said he “didn’t think for one minute” the Albania match would be in doubt.

“We’re flooded by stories like that all the time about various issues and its very rare those things come to fruition. I’ve been told that there’s no doubt about the game,” he added.

Original article 25.03.21 on the BBC website.

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