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Serbia vs Albania game abandoned

15 October 2014, 14:05

BELGRADE - A Euro 2016 qualifying match between Serbia and Albania was abandoned after a drone carrying a pro-Albanian message was flown over the stadium late Tuesday, sparking violent scenes on and off the pitch.

The match between the Balkan rivals was scoreless when it was stopped in the 41st minute after the drone trailing a "Greater Albania" flag flew over the Partizan Stadium in Belgrade and was brought down by a Serbia player.

The incident triggered clashes between the two sets of players and a handful of the 20,000 Serbian spectators ran on to the pitch and tried to assault the Albanian team.

Albanian fans had been banned from attending the match.

Serbia's interior ministry said the brother of Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama was arrested over the incident, accused of controlling the drone from his seat in the stadium's executive box.

Also read: Gignac stars as France beat Armenia

But the prime minister's brother, Olsi Rama, who later returned to Tirana with the Albanian team to a hero's welcome, said he had "nothing to do with the drone."

"I don't understand where this story came from," Rama said.

"I was neither arrested nor detained. When the incident occurred the situation became chaotic, police were checking everyone.

"I showed them my US passport and my camera and all this lasted only a few minutes," Rama said.

Thousands of Albanian fans, as well as deputy prime minister Niko Peleshi and sports minister Lindita Nikolli, welcomed the squad home at Rinas airport.

The incident comes just days before Edi Rama is due to make the first visit by an Albanian premier to Serbia for 68 years.

Rama's visit, set for next Wednesday, became possible after the normalisation of bilateral relations was sealed in an agreement brokered by the European Union in April 2013.

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