SHAFAQNA – The European qualifier between hosts Serbia and Albania in Belgrade was abandoned shortly before half time after a flying drone carrying an Albanian flag hovered over the pitch. The two countries, separated by the disputed territory of Kosovo, share a tense history and Albania’s federation did not make tickets available for travelling fans after a recommendation from UEFA. Albanian fans attempting to enter the grounds faced the possibility of the arrest.
The first half had proceeded without major incident when the arrival of the flag over the stadium put the Serbian crowd into an uproar.
Tensions increased further when the flag was snared by Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic, who then pulled on the strings connecting it to the drone. He was immediately confronted by Albanian players and a shoving match ensued.
As fans began to throw objects on the pitch, Albania’s players ran for their dressing room, followed shortly afterward by Serbia’s players. Police took control after a chaotic five-minute period.
Officials originally said play would continue, but nearly an hour after play was stopped, the match was abandoned by referee Martin Atkinson, according to the television broadcast. However, fans still remained in their seats long after the announcement was made.
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