According to reports in Serbia, the brother of Albania’s Prime Minister has been arrested, accused of flying the remote controlled Albanian flag which ignited the trouble that caused the abandonment of the Euro 2016 qualifier between Serbia and Albania.
Serbian state television RTS cited the Serbian Interior Ministry alleging that Olsi Rama controlled a drone from his VIP seat in the stadium, carrying a ‘Greater Albanian’ flag which sparked clashes between the teams.
Relations between Tirana and Belgrade have been fragile over Kosovo, a former Serbian province, and the ethnic Albanian minority in southern Serbia, who demand more autonomy.
The incident, in the 41st minute led to the abandonment of the match by English referee Martin Atkinson with the score goalless.
Serbian fans hurled smoke bombs and other missiles onto the pitch, while a number invaded the pitch and attempted to attack the Albanian players.
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic was quoted on the website of Blic as saying: “This was a political provocation.
“The main question for me is how will the European Union and UEFA react, because if someone from Serbia had unveiled a flag of Greater Serbia in Tirana or Pristina (capital of Kosovo) it would already be on the agenda of the U.N. Security Council.”
UEFA match delegate Harry Been said: “It is a regretful situation on which we will report; the referee, myself and the security advisor. The circumstances were such that we couldn’t continue the match.
“You all saw what happened and I cannot comment on who is to blame or what to blame. I will submit a report with my colleagues to UEFA and UEFA will decide what will happen further.”
Players from both sides were left shellshocked by the incident.
“What happened is something we can’t comprehend at the moment,” Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, the Serbia captain, said. “All I can say is that we wanted to carry on and that we shielded the Albanian players every step of the way to the tunnel.
“The Albanian team said they were unfit physically and mentally to carry on after talking to the officials and they will now decide the fate of this match. We can only regret that football took a back seat but it is difficult to draw any conclusions or make any comments now.”
Albanian captain Lorik Cana told Albanian television: “I saw my players being attacked and hit even inside the tunnel, and even by the stewards. We were not in the right psychological or physical state to continue playing.”