Serbia's Euro qualifier with Albania abandoned after brawl

The Euro 2016 qualifier between Serbia and Albania was abandoned on Tuesday following a brawl between players from both sides.

Reuters| Last Updated: Oct 15, 2014, 08:48 AM IST
Serbia's Euro qualifier with Albania abandoned after brawl

Belgrade: The politically-sensitive Euro 2016 qualifier between Serbia and Albania was abandoned on Tuesday following a brawl between players from both sides.

The Group I game was interrupted when a flag depicting so-called Greater Albania, an area covering all parts of the Balkans where ethnic Albanians live, was flown over the terraces and pitch by what appeared to be a remote controlled mini drone near the end of the first half.

A Serbian player eventually grabbed the flag at the Partizan stadium, prompting a melee involving numerous players. Riot police then moved in when around a dozen fans invaded the pitch and players retreated into the tunnel as flares were thrown from the terraces.

After a delay of around half an hour, English referee Martin Atkinson abandoned the game, UEFA said on their website (www.uefa.com).

Security was tight for a game at which no away fans were present and held against a backdrop of long-running Serb-Albanian tensions over Kosovo, a majority-Albanian former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008.

NATO waged a 78-day air war in 1999 to halt the killing and expulsion of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo by Serbian forces fighting a two-year counter-insurgency war. Serbia does not recognise Kosovo as independent.