On Monday night, a blast damaged the house gate of the head of the Albanian football federation Armand Duka.
The explosion happened around 10 p.m., at a time when some of the main political shows on TV were discussing the conflict between Duka and Tirana Municipality which had escalated during the day.
Duka has been the president of the Albanian Football Federation (FSHF) for 20 years, and he plans to run for a sixth term in the March elections.
Mayor Erion Veliaj accuses him of corruption and attempts of vote rigging, and has called on national and international institutions to prosecute him.
The blast happened while Duka was on his way home and his wife was inside the house.
Speaking live to TV cameras from the explosion site, Duka said that only damages to the gate had occurred. Asked on whom the perpetrators might have been, he said that some have been talking about his conflict with Mayor Veliaj during the day, but that he himself hoped the explosion was not connected to Veliaj.
Duka added that he had no idea who might have planted the explosive device and expressed doubts whether the police could find the perpetrator.
Meanwhile, Veliaj was speaking live on the elections within the FSHF on another TV channel when news of the explosion reached Albanian media. He condemned the attack vehemently and called on police and prosecutors to fully investigate and find the perpetrators.
Veliaj alleged that Duka has been laundering money, is involved in corruption, abuse of office, and vote rigging.
Duka has been repeatedly accused on similar grounds throughout his reign of 20 years at the helm of the FSHF, but prosecutors have not launched an investigation against him. While there have been allegations by football players in past years that people close to Duka have asked them to pay bribes to him in order to play with the national team, Veliaj’s allegations of money laundering are voiced in public for the first time.
The mayor stressed that the FSHF operates in complete lack of transparency, and alleged that Duka has been abusing his office for many years and used the institution’s budget without any checks. He added that Duka has manipulated and fixed match results, abused broadcast rights, and used the FSHF to advertise his family companies.
Elections for the new head of the FSHF are set to take place on March 2. Representatives of select football clubs and associations vote to elect the president. Duka’s opponents claim that he has changed the voting system in a way that he gets reelected after having given voting rights to his supporters.
Veliaj vowed to take the matter of voting rights to the court, after yesterday’s vote to elect the head of a football association who will be one of the assembly members to vote for the next FSHF president. Duka’s opponents claimed that he brought in people from outside to vote for his choice.
BIRN reported that no investigation had been started for Duka, but sources from within the same office told Exit that a general investigation for financial fraud had been started against the FSHF.