Albania’s first visit to Serbia in 47 years ended in a chaotic brawl featuring chair-wielding fans, flares, and a drone controlled by the Albanian prime minister’s brother, who was later arrested.
The game, a qualifier for the 2016 European Championship, was abandoned.
In the 40th minute a pro-Albanian drone started hovering over the field. It was waving a flag showing a map of “Greater Albania,” according to The Guardian. The two countries have a long history, most notably in Kosovo — a region on the border with a large population of ethnic Albanians that was a part of Serbia before declaring independence 2008.
After the drone appeared, referee Martin Atkinson halted the game.
When Serbia defender Stefan Mitrovic grabbed the flag and attempted to yank down the drone with it, all hell broke loose.
He was confronted by Albania players, who retook the flag.
Serbian fans rushed the pitch, including one who hit an Albanian player with a chair:
The players fled to the locker room. The Albanians were pummelled and kicked as they went into the tunnel.
After the game, Serbian officials told CNN that Olsi Rama, the brother of Albanian prime minister Edi Rama, was the one controlling the drone. He was arrested and set back to Albania, according to the officials.
UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, has rules to keep countries with histories of violence and political strife from playing each other in tournaments with random draws. Gibraltar isn’t allowed to play Spain, for example.
The chaos in Belgrade on Tuesday night shows that this is a wise strategy that probably should be used more often.
Watch the video of the chaos here:
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