Tuesday

18th Sep 2018

Albania-Serbia football violence catches EU attention

  • Albanian players received a heroes' welcome when they went home to Tirana (Photo: bildungsr0man)

Violence at an Albania-Serbia football game has mushroomed in importance, with PMs, presidents, and EU diplomats getting involved.

Albanian players and Serb fans fought on the pitch in Belgrade on Tuesday (14 October) after a little drone with an Albanian flag appeared in the air.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The flag showed a greater Albania, including territorial claims on Serbia, and two Albanian patriots from a century ago.

It came after Serb fans chanted “death to Albanians” during the Albanian anthem and threw missiles, including fireworks, injuring four Albanian players.

Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for the EU foreign service, on Wednesday criticised the flag stunt.

“We are disappointed with the disruption of the football match following an act of provocation … Serbian authorities demonstrated professionalism in their handling of the situation”, she told press in Brussels.

She said “politics must not be driven by stadium provocations”.

But the incident risks upsetting a visit by Albania's PM Edi Rama to Belgrade on 22 October - the first by an Albanian leader in more than seven decades.

The regional diplomacy is part of EU efforts to maintain stability 15 years after the Balkan wars.

Germany’s ambassador to Albania, Helmut Hoffman, on Wednesday urged Rama to still go. But Albanian foreign minister Ditmir Bushati said “all options remain open”.

Meanwhile, local leaders are doing little to calm things down.

Serbia's PM Aleksandar Vucic blamed a group of Albanian VIPs at the game, including Rama’s brother, for the drone.

He said: “They wanted to trample on our pride, but we kept face, and showed a gang of fake Albanian officials in the VIP lounge a clear difference between us and them”.

Serbia's president Tomislav Nikolic noted: “it will take Albania decades, if not centuries to become a normal country”.

For his part, Rama criticised Serb fans’ “ugly and racist” behaviour.

“It’s regrettable that the presence of a [Albanian] flag on the pitch, where there were thousands of Serb flags, can serve as an alibi for everything that happened”, he said.

The football game, refereed by a British official, was abandoned before half-time.

Uefa, which is organising the Euro 2016 qualifiers, is to take a disciplinary decision on Albanian and Serb football authorities on 23 October.

It said on Wednesday it will look at Serb fans’ “setting off/throwing of fireworks and missiles … crowd disturbance … field invasion”. It will look at “display of an illicit banner” on the Albanian side.

Opinion

Western Balkans: Nationalism is not the answer

After a century of bloodshed and hatred, the independence of Kosovo in 2008 seemed like a sign that peace and stability is possible in the Western Balkans.

Opinion

The greater, broken Albania

War drums will not silence the sound of 100,000 feet of people leaving Kosovo; if political leaders realise this, everyone will be better off.

News in Brief

  1. EU investigating BMW, Daimler and VW 'collusion'
  2. Spain wants special Gibraltar chapter in Brexit deal
  3. Italy cancels Vienna talks over South Tyrol 'dual citizenship'
  4. Britain will not accept Brexit deal with Irish Sea border
  5. Slovakia seeks witness to journalist killing
  6. Finland's Stubb considers running for EU commission job
  7. Romania ponders anti same-sex marriage referendum
  8. EU lawyers back Slovenia in Croatia border dispute

Interview

New book: Why war is coming

War is the likely outcome of current geopolitical trends - the decline of democracy and rise of authoritarian nationalism - says Belgian writer Koert Debeuf in his new book 'Tribalisation', to be launched in New York this week.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  4. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  5. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  6. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  7. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  8. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  9. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  10. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  12. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want

Latest News

  1. EU promotes 'Egypt model' to reduce migrant numbers
  2. Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal
  3. New book: Why war is coming
  4. EU parliament will not budge on office expenses
  5. Why Orban's project to reshape EU politics will be unsuccessful
  6. 10 years after Lehman Brothers what has changed for EU consumers?
  7. Sefcovic launches bid to be EU Commission president
  8. Is Russia blackmailing the Council of Europe?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us