Kosovo Tensions Lead to Euro 2016 Qualifying Match Abandonment

Kosovo Tensions Lead to Euro 2016 Qualifying Match Abandonment

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 10:17 pm

A 2016 European Championship qualifying match between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade had to be abandoned few minutes before half-time when fighting broke out between players and officials of both teams.

The Group I qualifier was the first time since 1967 Albania’s national team would visit the Serbian capital due to tensions between both nations over the State of Kosovo, summed up by UEFA banning away fans from the match tonight and from the return leg next year.

Trouble began just before the half-hour mark when a drone helicopter flew in above the pitch, with what was supposedly an Albanian flag on a map of Kosovo attached to it along with a political message.

This led to match referee Martin Atkinson suspending the match as a smoke bomb went off from the stands and players of both sides squared off, as tension began to rise.

Serbian player Stefan Mitrovic then grabbed the flag as it fell to the pitch, at which point the match was ‘suspended till further notice’ as fighting intensified between both set of players and officials who eventually went off the pitch.

The match was then confirmed to continue about 20 minutes after it was initially suspended with both teams returning to the pitch, though play had not resumed when the match eventually was abandoned.

Albania went into the encounter top of the qualifying group, which also comprises Portugal and Denmark, while Serbia was second from bottom though with a game in hand.

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