Friday

16th Nov 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. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Authorities in Budapest confirmed the former prime minister of Macedonia, fleeing a jail sentence in his own country, has filed for asylum. Despite Hungary's strict asylum laws, the pro-Kremlin politician was not turned away.

Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army

Angela Merkel's much-anticipated speech to the European Parliament was brief and to the point. Her message: Europe is alone in the world, the EU should be more united on defence, but not on the economy.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  2. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  3. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  4. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  5. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  6. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  7. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot
  8. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us