Serbia’s match with Albania was abandoned after a drone carrying a political message sparked clashes | Oct 14, 2014

Serbia-Albania was abandoned after a drone carrying a political message sparked clashes.

Serbia-Albania was abandoned after a drone carrying a political message sparked clashes.

The match was already hotly-contested before the flag incident saw the match postponed.

The match was already hotly-contested before the flag incident saw the match postponed.

Serbia’s match with Albania was abandoned after a drone carrying a political message sparked clashes involving players and fans on the Partizan Stadium pitch.

The Euro 2016 qualifier, refereed by English official Martin Atkinson, was suspended in the 41st minute at 0-0.

Trouble flared when an Albanian flag and message flew above the pitch and was caught by a Serbia player.

Albania players tried to take it before several fans broke onto the pitch.

Atkinson led the players off the field and, after a delay of around 30 minutes, Uefa confirmed the match had been abandoned.

Albanian fans had been banned from attending the qualifier between the two Balkan rival nations.

Serbia and Albania have a history of turbulent relations, predominantly in relation to the former Serbian province of Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008.

It has been recognised by the United States and major European Union countries, but Serbia refuses to do so, as do most ethnic Serbs inside Kosovo.

“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,” Uefa match delegate Harry Been said.

“You all saw what happened and I cannot comment on who is to blame or what to blame. I will submit a report with my colleagues to Uefa and Uefa will decide what will happen further.”

Serbian national broadcaster RTS reported that Olsi Rama, the brother of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, was arrested in the stadium’s VIP box for instigating the drone stunt, but this could not be confirmed.

Serbian B92 Television journalist Milos Saranovic, who was at the match, told BBC Sport: “The whole atmosphere before the game was that Serbia and Albania was more politically sensitive than any other game.

“I cannot remember for years so many police at the stadium. Everything looked like a situation that is not normal.
“One small stupid situation made an explosion – that is the shortest way to describe the incident of the night.

“The players have usually been able to keep the atmosphere on the pitch normal. The game was normal for 40 minutes with no small accident on the pitch but when that flag appeared, the heat was going up.”

Albania had been looking for their second win in Group I, having started the day top with four points.

Denmark, in second place before Tuesday’s games, lost to Portugal, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a last-minute goal in a 1-0 win.

In other matches, Switzerland beat San Marino 4-0 in Group E – England’s group – while Gibraltar lost 3-0 to Georgia in Group D.

In that section’s other games, Scotland drew 2-2 in Poland while the Republic of Ireland drew 1-1 in Germany.

Northern Ireland recorded their third win in as many games to beat Greece 2-0 and top Group F with nine points.

Finally, in Group F, Hungary edged Faroe Islands 1-0 and Romania won 2-0 in Finland.

BBC Match Report

Stefan Mitrovic pulled down the flag, which sparked the trouble.

Stefan Mitrovic pulled down the flag, which sparked the trouble.

A skirmish between Serbian and Albanian players broke out on the pitch

A skirmish between Serbian and Albanian players broke out on the pitch

The flag is flown above the pitch by a drone with the message 'autochthonous', meaning indigenous

The flag is flown above the pitch by a drone with the message ‘autochthonous’, meaning indigenous

Mitrovic tugs at the strings holding the now-grounded flag to the drone flying above

Mitrovic tugs at the strings holding the now-grounded flag to the drone flying above

Tension boiled over as fans and officials spilled onto the pitch after the flag was pulled down

Tension boiled over as fans and officials spilled onto the pitch after the flag was pulled down

Fans and players clashed on the pitch as tensions reached fever pitch in Belgrade.

Fans and players clashed on the pitch as tensions reached fever pitch in Belgrade.

The players brawl while a chair is launched towards them by another pitch invader.

The players brawl while a chair is launched towards them by another pitch invader.

Albanian players try to take cover as they flee to the tunnel - chair can be seen being thrown about

Albanian players try to take cover as they flee to the tunnel – chair can be seen being thrown about

Serbian riot police try to contain the home supporters after fighting broke out in the pitch.

Serbian riot police try to contain the home supporters after fighting broke out in the pitch.

Serbia fans burn a NATO flag during the Group I qualifying game at the Partizan Stadium.

Serbia fans burn a NATO flag during the Group I qualifying game at the Partizan Stadium.

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