Mini-drone turns Serbia-Albania football match into Balkans bust-up

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Mini-drone turns Serbia-Albania football match into Balkans bust-up

Mini-drone turns Serbia-Albania football match into Balkans bust-up
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Who was behind the mini-drone that forced a Euro 2016 qualifier to be abandoned?

The Serbia versus Albania match erupted in Belgrade as the device flew in carrying a flag of a so-called Greater Albania – an area covering all parts of the Balkans where ethnic Albanians live.

That was enough to infuriate Serbs on and off the pitch and when Albanian players joined in the melee a unseemly brawl ensued.

After a delay of around half an hour, English referee Martin Atkinson abandoned the game, which stood at 0-0.

Riot police were deployed outside although away fans had been banned from attending the match.

“Probably the consequences of the war in Kosovo have led to this situation,” said Serbia supporter Aleksander Ciric, referring to conflict in the late 1990s and the declaration of independence by the majority ethnic Albanian ex-Serbian province in 2008 – something Belgrade doesn’t recognise.

“What they did to us there in Kosovo… I believe that is the root cause of this and it is not going to end well.”

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic was quoted on the website of Serbian daily Blic as saying:

“This was a political provocation.

“The main question for me is how will the European Union and UEFA react, because if someone from Serbia had unveiled a flag of Greater Serbia in Tirana or Pristina, it would already be on the agenda of the UN Security Council. “

UEFA match delegate Harry Been said:

“It is a regretful situation on which we will report; the referee, myself and the security advisor. The circumstances were such that we couldn’t continue the match.

“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.”

In Pristina, Albania fans from Kosovo poured onto the streets, celebrating the abandoned match as a victory over Serbia.

“They showed themselves as they historically, truly are – a criminal nation,” said Kreshnik Hyseni.

“This was a football match and they turned it into a war arena.”

Olsi Rama, the Albanian Prime Minister’s brother, was accused by Serbian media of remotely controlling the drone. He has denied any involvement.

But the timing of the incident couldn’t be more sensitive as Edi Rama, his politician brother, is about to become the first Albanian premier in decades to visit Serbia – two countries whose historically difficult relations remain far from simple.