Albanian soccer resumes as top clubs end boycott

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — The top clubs in Albania have decided to end their boycott and will resume playing this weekend, the country’s soccer federation said Thursday.

The start of the season in September did not begin as scheduled because most of the top teams agreed not to play after getting no answer from the government following a request for more financial support.

Federation president Armand Duka said matches will resume on Sunday and Wednesday, likely deciding to hold two matches per week to make up for lost time.

“Such a decision came for several reasons: the need of the fans to follow matches and the fact that such a prolonged interruption is not good for the players and the coaches,” Duka said after a meeting with club presidents.

The Football Professional League, which is comprised of nine of the 10 clubs in the top division, had asked the government to exclude players from income tax for up to 10 years, increasing the period from two years. It also wanted to lower the value added tax for all soccer economic activities from 20% to 6%, cancel the not-paid fiscal obligations and draft a new law on sponsorship.

FPL secretary general Edvin Libohova said the group had “received a support in principle for all our demands” following intensive contacts with government officials.

The government has said it has already fulfilled most of the FPL’s requests.

On Wednesday, the federation said that other lower leagues would also resume matches this weekend.

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