Romanian fans declare ‘Kosovo is Serbia’, halting football match

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, which Romania has not recognised.

Pro-Serbia banners
Romanian fans hold up banners saying, 'Kosovo is Serbia,' causing play to be suspended [Inquam Photos via George Calin/Reuters]

Romanian and Kosovar football players have been told to leave the pitch in Bucharest for 45 minutes after home fans directed pro-Serbia chants at the opposing team.

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) said the European Championship 2024 qualifying game on Tuesday was stopped “due to discriminatory language from supporters”.

Romanian fans chanted and displayed banners reading, “Kosovo is Serbia,” stopping the game after 18 minutes with the score at 0-0.

Videos of the chants were posted on social media.

UEFA will open a disciplinary case against the team for making a prohibited political statement at a game.

In 2008, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia and won recognition from more than 100 countries but not from Romania.

Serbia and Kosovo remain at odds with tension flaring this year after local elections in Kosovo led to violent clashes.

During the pause in game time, Romania captain Nicolae Stanciu tried to reason with fans. If the game had been abandoned, Romania would have forfeited it as a 3-0 loss, damaging its chance to qualify for the Euro 2024 competition in Germany.

But play continued and Stanciu scored in the 83rd minute of the game. Valentin Mihaila aded another goal, scoring in stoppage time, as Romania won 2-0.

The unbeaten team is in second spot behind Switzerland in their six-team group. Kosovo is fifth in their group.

By November, the top two teams from each group will advance to the finals tournament.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies