The Serbian FA (FSS) blamed their Albanian rivals for incidents which forced Tuesday’s Euro 2016 qualifier to be abandoned but will press for several dozen home fans who invaded the pitch to be charged, the governing body said.
The politically sensitive Group I match was halted in the first half when a flag of so-called Greater Albania attached to a remote-controlled drone hovered over Partizan Belgrade’s stadium before being grabbed by Serbia defender Stefan Mitrovic.
“It was a well-planned political diversion and, at the end of the day, it was the key factor which led to the match being abandoned,” the FSS said in a statement on Wednesday.
“All Mitrovic wanted to do was remove the flag so that the match could continue but the Albanian players attacked him. We also wish to point out that the home Serbia fans displayed no offensive banners at any point in time.”
Running for cover
A brawl between rival players broke out after several Albanian players snatched the flag from Mitrovic and then had to run for cover into the tunnel as the invading home fans attacked them while those on the terraces hurled flares.
After a delay of about half an hour, English referee Martin Atkinson abandoned the game, which stood at 0-0 in the 41st minute. Albania fans had been banned from attending the match.
Serbian media, and the country’s foreign minister, put the blame on the brother of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, with some media reporting that he had been arrested in the VIP stands of the stadium with the remote control in his hands.
Olsi Rama, who is a US citizen, arrived in the Albanian capital Tirana on the Albania tea
“I’ve never used a drone in my life, only bought my son a toy helicopter,” he said.m plane and told Reuters he had been “taken aside” by Serbian police during the melee but not arrested.