The Albanian Football Federation (FSHF) has accused Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj of interfering in elections for the head of the institution.
In a press statement on Monday, shortly before a vote to elect the head of the regional football association of Tirana, of which the municipality is a stakeholder and therefore has the right to participate, the FSHF spokesperson denounced Mayor Veliaj for exerting pressure on assembly members a day earlier.
The spokesperson published a 30-minute-long audio-recording, quoting Veliaj as saying the following during the meeting with some of the assembly members one day before today’s vote.
– We are going to get together tomorrow at the Tirana Olympic Park and go to the Albanian Football Federation to take a piss in their home.
– Forget about UEFA or FIFA coming here, not even Jesus or Muhammad can stop my fight.
– I am going to do whatever it takes to make their life miserable through prosecutors and SPAK (Special Prosecution Office against Corruption)
– Football is the only island we haven’t taken under control.
– How can you laugh at a time when he has taken away your dignity, your manhood? How can one cut off his b… and behave like a d… while being a man of football?
– We are not bitches that hide themselves away. We are men, and 40 of us men are going to go over there and take a piss [on FSHF].
– Once we have destroyed Tirana, we will go to every city. I am the mayor. I want to control football. Football is one of the rooms in my house. You are all going to support candidate Eduard Prodani.
In today’s vote, Prodani and a number of assembly members boycotted the voting, after they accused the current FSHF leadership of rigging the process by allowing people with no right to vote to cast votes in favor of their candidate.
The assembly declared Krenar Alimehmeti as winner of elections for the head of the regional football association of Tirana.
Mayor Veliaj admitted it was him appearing in the audio-recording published by the FSHF spokesperson.
“I stand behind what I have said in the dirty FSHF audio-recording,” he said, accusing the FSHF President of blackmail and rigging elections.
Veliaj stressed that he is involved in the election process as the Mayor of Tirana, which is a FSHF stakeholder, and not as the ruling Socialist Party official.
In March, football clubs and regional associations will vote to elect the President of FSHF.
Armand Duka has led the top football institution for 20 years and plans to run for a sixth term. His presidency has been marred by allegations of abuse of office, corruption and lack of transparency but no investigation has taken place so far.
Local media reported on Monday that prosecutors have launched an investigation into the FSHF, following a report by police last month and accusations by Mayor Veliaj last weekend. Such reports remain unconfirmed.
Sports commentator Dritan Shakohoxha is set to be Duka’s challenger in the March elections. His supporters accuse the current president of controlling votes in the assembly through corrupt ways.
Shakohoxha vowed to take today’s assembly vote to the court, accusing the FSHF of manipulating the process by bringing in people to vote people with no such right.