MOSCOW, October 15 (RIA Novosti) - A Euro 2016 qualifying match between Serbia and Albania was called off at the 41st minute after a Albanian flag carried by a drone was pulled to the ground by Serbian player Stefan Mitrovic at Partizan stadium, reports BBC Sport.
"One small stupid situation made an explosion - that is the shortest way to describe the incident of the night,” said Serbian B92 journalist Milos Saranovic in an interview with BBC Sport.
Albanian fans had been banned from attending the UEFA match in Belgrade, however the drone appeared over the pitch in the first half carrying an Albanian flag and political message saying “autochthonous”, meaning indigenous.
When Serbian defender Stefan Mitrovic pulled the flag to the ground, he was confronted by several Albanian players who tried to forcibly take the flag from Mitrovic. At this point, several Serbian fans rushed the field in defense. Numerous fights broke out between the players and people in the stands. Havoc and chaos ensued and the Albanian team had to flee the pitch for safety. At this point, referee Martin Atkinson stopped play, ordered everyone off of the field and after 30 minutes the match was called off at 0-0.
UEFA spokesman Harry Bean said regretfully, “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.”
The incident has renewed old tensions between the two nations, as Serbia does not recognize the independence of Kosovo.
According to Reuters, the drone was piloted by Olsi Rama, the brother of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama. He was arrested at the VIP box and a remote was found on his person. “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, after which the match between Serbia and Albania was abandoned” Serbian state news RTS reported.