Serbia’s highly-charged Euro 2016 qualifier at home to fellow Balkan nation Albania had to be suspended after a drone flown on to the pitch triggered a brawl between players and fans.
There is plenty of political tension between the two nations, with Serbia having fought a war with Kosovo (made up largely of ethnic Albanians) since the dissolution of Yugoslavia in the 1990’s.
Despite Kosovo now claiming independence – which is not officially recognised by the United Nations, which is why they do not have a FIFA-ratified team – both Serbia and Albania remain bitter over the conflict and seven of the visitors’ 23-man squad were born in the Kosovo region.
With the score still level at 0-0, a small drone was flown on to the pitch towards the end of the first half carrying a Kosovo flag, pausing the game momentarily, before Serbia’s Stefan Mitrovic ripped the flag down.
Some of Albania’s players reacted angrily and charged at Mitrovic, which initiated a mass brawl, with both sets of players, numerous coaching staff and even fans from the stadium rushing on to the field of play to get involved.
Referee Martin Atkinson abandoned the game – which was the first time Albania’s team had visited Begrade since 1967 – and no restart time has been allocated, leaving the Euro 2016 qualifier in limbo.
Albania have never before reached a major international tournament but topped Group I heading into Tuesday’s game after beating Portugal and holding Denmark to a draw in their opening two matches.
Euro 2016 Qualifiers Results
Germany 1-1 R. of Ireland
Gibraltar 0-3 Georgia
Poland 2-2 Scotland
San Marino 0-4 Switzerland
Faroe Islands 0-1 Hungary
Finland 0-2 Romania
Greece 0-2 Northern Ireland