Serbia-Albania match abandoned after drone carrying Albanian flag sparks brawl


Match officials abandoned Tuesday’s Euro 2016 qualifier between Albania and Serbia after a drone carrying an Albanian flag entered the stadium late in the first half and sparked a brawl between players and fans.

Tension was always likely to be high as Albania were making their first trip to Belgrade since 1967. The two Balkan rival nations have had turbulent relations - mainly over the former ethnic Albanian-dominated Serbian province of Kosovo that declared independence in 2008. UEFA banned away fans from attending both qualifying fixtures between the two teams due to security reasons. (For more background on this match, read this)

However, Albanian fans still managed to make their mark as the drone entered the stadium around the 41st minute carrying a flag with the outline of the “Greater Albania” region on it and the text "AUTOCHTONOUS" (“indigenous”). Outraged home fans began to throw flares on the pitch, and minutes later Serbia’s Stefan Mitrovic pulled the flag down to the ground.

That sparked a fight between the two teams and several dozen fans stormed the pitch. The mayhem continued until Albanian players fled the pitch while being pelted with garbage thrown from the stands. The match was suspended for about 45 minutes before the decision was made to abandon it with the score tied at 0-0.







UPDATE: Later on Tuesday, Serbian media reported that the brother of Albania’s prime minister was arrested on suspicion of planning the drone maneuver.

From Blic:

“Orfi Rama, brother of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, was arrested this evening in the VIP lounge of the Partizan stadium under reasonable suspicion that he organized and managed the incident with the flag of a Greater Albania which was abandoned after a football match teams of Serbia and Albania.”

Everything is obviously still pretty fresh, so let’s see what comes out of this story in the next day or two. In any case, this ugly incident will almost certainly make people question why UEFA allowed these two teams to fall into the same qualifying group in the first place.

Images provided by Reuters


Josip Simunic sets Croatia-Serbia relations back 20 years with brutal foul

There are few football rivalries — if any — that are as deep-rooted and ferocious as that between Croatia and Serbia. The feud on the pitch obviously pales in comparison to the bitter wars in the Balkans, yet fighting between soccer hooligans from both countries drew world attention in the early 1990s and became part of the bigger picture.

This past March, Serbia played its first competitive game against Croatia as an independent nation, the first of its two World Cup qualifying duels.  In that match, Serbian fans were banned from traveling to Zagreb as a safety measure, (as were Croatian fans on Friday), reporters at the game overheard a distinct “Let’s kill the Serbs” chant, and Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic was accused of nationalist gestures during a goal celebration.

Needless to say, tempers were frayed on Friday to begin with. But then Croatia’s Josip Simunic, with the score tied 1-1 late in the match, unleashed a horrendous challenge on Serbia’s Miralem Sulejmani. Simunic deliberately took out the Benfica forward in a full speed collision, trying to prevent a clear breakaway and sending Sulejmani a good 4-5 yards in the air.

Simunic was appropriately sent off, and showered with boos and several missiles by the home crowd. The match ended in a draw, knocking Serbia out from the World Cup qualification process.


FK Vozdovac Belgrade showcases new rooftop stadium

If you’re afraid of heights or suffer from vertigo, the video above probably isn’t for you.

But if you love interesting stadiums or malls with sweet roofs, you’re in for a treat.

That’s a CGI clip of Serbian team FK Vozdovac Belgrade’s new rooftop stadium. Now, rooftop stadiums aren’t unheard of, but this artificial pitch sits atop an entire shopping center!

Imagine being able to go catch a football match, then heading downstairs to buy some new clothes and scoop an Orange Julius.

At first we thought parking on matchday might be an issue. But then we remembered that parking at the mall is always a nightmare, so what’s the issue?

Your move, Mall of America Field.

(h/t Who Ate All the Pies)


Serbia’s U-19 squad puzzled when Yugoslav anthem is played

Nothing gets you ready for an international soccer match quite like the national anthems prior to kick-off. Shivers run down our spines as the crowd gets into it, belting along as flags wave throughout the stadium. At the same time, it’s always fun to play the “who doesn’t know the words to their anthem” game as the camera pans across the players’ faces.

But let’s forgive Serbia’s Under-19s for not singing along.

Serbia’s players were visibly stunned and embarrassed ahead of their European Championship semifinal against Portugal in Lithuania when the stadium began playing the old Yugoslavia anthem by mistake! Serbia, of course, was part of Yugoslavia before the Balkan conflict in the early 1990s, and has had its own, new anthem since 2006, after Yugoslavia’s successor state Serbia & Montenegro split into two new independent nations.

Fortunately, Serbia put the anthem gaffe aside and ended up winning the match on penalties, advancing to the final where they will face France.


Belgium captain Vincent Kompany gets an eyeful


The expression ‘taking one for the team’ could not be more apt in the case of Vincent Kompany who played for an hour of Belgium’s 2-1 win against Serbia with a concussion, a broken nose and a fractured eye socket. The Manchester City defender was clattered by Serbian goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic half an hour into the game and needed treatment on the sidelines before the Belgium skipper carried on. He tweeetd this picture of himself later and said: “What wouldn’t you do for your country, eh?”

Captain Fantastic or what?

Via @VincentKompany


Some fans show how unhappy they are with their club by booing or jeering players. Some fans boycott games. The fans of Serbian second division Mačva Šabac show their disdain in an altogether different and far more harrowing way though.

On the morning of their game on Sunday against Bane Raška, club officials found something catching their eye in the center circle of the pitch. Much to their shock, a crucifix had been buried into the grass by perpetrators who had broken in the night before.

Even more worrying is the message displayed on the crucifix, translated as “Second division or this”.

Šabac managed to win their weekend encounter, putting themselves just two points behind second place in the league. There’s certainly better ways to motivate your side though, surely?

Check the video above for the footage. Creepy!


Tartan Army answers call before World Cup qualifier

Image via Dailymail

Serbia got by with a little help from their Scottish friends. Despite a heavy snowfall at Karadjordje Stadium, the FIFA World Cup qualifier between Serbia and Scotland was able to be played. Thanks to the efforts of the Tartan Army, fans of Scotland’s national team, the pitch was cleared of snow in time for inspection and the qualifier was given the green light to commence.

Perhaps the fans should have left the snow on the field as Croatia went on to defeats the Scots 2-0 thanks to a double from Filip Djuricic.