Serbia-Albania Match Abandoned over Unrest, Flag-Waving Drone

Sports | October 15, 2014, Wednesday // 08:39|  views

A brawl between players on the pitch before the UEFA EURO 2016 group I qualifying soccer match between Serbia and Albania is suspended in Belgrade, Serbia, 14 October 2014. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Clashes between fans and players in Belgrade's Partizan Stadium forced referee Martin Atkinson to stop a Euro qualifiers football game between Serbia and Albania.

The first incident happened minutes before the first half was to end, as a drone was spotted flying over the field and waving an Albanian flag.

This infuriated the Serbian fans (there were no Albanian ones in the stands due to security concerns), since the flag also showed the image of a "redrawn" map of the country created in accordance with the "Greater Albania" vision including territories of neighboring states.

Serbia's Stefan Mitrovic then pulled the flag down and was attacked by the rival team.

Their scuffle prompted a melee among other players as well and rose tensions in the stands.

Torches were hurled to the field by fans who also clashed with police.

A group of Serbian fans even assaulted them Albanian team as it was leaving the playground

A number of Serbian media outlets suggested Olsi Rama, the brother of Edi Rama (Albania's Prime Minister) was arrested over alleged involvement in the flag incident and having a remote control for the drone in Partizan Stadium's VIP box.

UEFA confirmed thirty minutes later the game had been abandoned.

"It is a regretful situation on which we will report; the referee, myself and the security adviser. The circumstances were such that we couldn't continue the match," the BBC quotes its match delegate Harry Been as saying.

The organization is expected to take action against Serbia, which hosted the match, but has not ruled out measures on Albania as well.

A huge crowd of football fans gathered in the center of Albania's capital Tirana after the game ended.

On Friday, October 10, the Bulgaria-Croatia match played in Sofia was interrupted for a few minutes during the first half after football fans of both teams pelted each other with fireworks.

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Tags: Serbia, Albania, match, UEFA, Euro 2016, Stefan Mitrovic, Edi Rama, Olsi Rama


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