clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Serbia vs. Albania abandoned after flag-flying drone incites brawl

Serious fan tensions were expected during the European qualifying match between Serbia and Albania, but no one can say they expected a drone to fly onto the field. In the 42nd minute, a drone carrying a flag depicting Albania, Kosovo and parts of other countries considered to be culturally Albanian interrupted the match, and things got testy when Serbia's Aleksandar Mitrovic ripped the flag down. The Albanian players didn't take kindly to this at all and a huge melee ensued, leading to referee Martin Atkinson suspending, and eventually abandoning the match.

If you're unfamiliar with why these two nations don't like each other very much, Albanians and Serbians are the two ethnicities involved in the dispute over Kosovo. While the international community at large recognizes Kosovo's autonomy, which the Albanian community has pursued for a very long time, Serbia still does not. Several members of Albania's team were born in Kosovo.

Olsi Rama, the brother of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, was reportedly arrested in connection with the incident. According to Serbian state television, he is suspected to be involved with the organization of the disruption of the game, and a remote for the drone was found in his VIP box. "He was arrested on suspicion that he masterminded and executed the incident in which a flag with a map of greater Albania was flown over the pitch and the terraces," according to a translation of the article by The Daily Mail.

This was the first game that Albania has played in Belgrade since 1967. Away fans were not allowed to attend either this game or the return fixture in Albania, though clearly, some supporters of Albania were at the match. Milivoj Mirkov, head of security for the Serbian FA, talked about the restrictions.

"The supporters of Albania are not allowed to visit the stadium. UEFA banned away supporters from this as well as the rematch that will be played in October 2015 due to security reasons. Every Albanian supporter that tries to attend the match will be arrested and prosecuted."

But despite the precautions taken, the game couldn't be finished without incident. Here's Mitrovic taking down the flag, starting the fight.

This article has been updated with new information since its original posting.