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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

drone causes abandonment of Serbia Vs Albania - Euro 2016 qualifier

Matches have been stopped / abandoned due to host of reasons right from weather, rain, lightning, crowd behaviour, stadium collapse, ground being dug up, assassination of political leader elsewhere and more… now, there is another addition to that list – hitherto unthought of !

It was tempting to think Serbia's Euro 2016 qualifier against Albania - the latter's first visit to Belgrade since 1967 - was going to conclude without incident. The match in Belgrade was stopped after 41 minutes when a drone sparked a brawl.  Drones are male honey bees which develop from eggs that have not been fertilized, and they cannot sting. An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone, is an aircraft without a human pilot on board. Its flight is either controlled autonomously by computers in the vehicle, or under the remote control of a navigatoron the ground or in another vehicle.

Serbia is a country situated at the crossroads between Central and Southeastern Europe, covering the southern part of the Pannonian Plain and the central Balkans. Serbia is landlocked and borders Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro and also claims a border with Albania through the disputed territory of Kosovo. The capital of Serbia, Belgrade, is among Europe's oldest cities and one of the largest in Southeast Europe.

Albania is a country in Southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Greece. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the west and on the Ionian Sea to the southwest. The double-headed eagle, as featured on the Albanian flag, is imposed upon so-called 'Greater Albania' where ethnic Albanians live. The word 'autochthonous' refers to Serbia's alleged attempts to control Kosovo despite not being indigenous to the region. Nato waged a 78-day air war in 1999 to halt the killing and expulsion of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo by Serbian forces fighting a two-year counter-insurgency war. Serbia does not recognise Kosovo as independent.

2016 UEFA European Championship, commonly referred to as Euro 2016, will be the 15th European Championship for men's national football teams organised by UEFA. It is scheduled to be held in France in June 2016. For the first time, the European Championship final tournament will be contested by 24 teams, having been expanded from the 16-team format that had been used since 1996. Under this new format, the finalists will contest a group stage consisting of six groups of four teams, followed by a knockout stage including three rounds and the final. As hosts, France have automatically qualified for the final tournament, while the other 53 national teams will compete in a qualifying competition.  Among these teams are back-to-back defending champions Spain, and for the first time since their affiliation with UEFA, Gibraltar. The winners will earn the right to participate in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup hosted by Russia.

The qualifying competition for UEFA Euro 2016 is scheduled to be played from September 2014 to November 2015 to determine the 23 teams to join France.  Group I of the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying tournament is one of the nine groups to decide the teams which qualify. Group I consists of five teams: Portugal, Denmark, Serbia, Armenia, and Albania, where they play against each other home-and-away in a round-robin format. European football governing body UEFA banned Albania fans from attending the clash in Belgrade but elected to allow the two countries to face each other, despite long-standing political tensions.

The politically-sensitive Euro 2016 qualifier between Serbia and Albania was abandoned  yesterday  following a brawl between players from both sides after a flag stunt, with Olsi Rama - the brother of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama -  reportedly accused of starting the trouble. The Group I game, with no away fans permitted, was interrupted when a flag depicting so-called Greater Albania, an area covering all parts of the Balkans where ethnic Albanians live, was flown over the terraces and pitch by what appeared to be a remote controlled mini drone near the end of the first half.

A Serbian player eventually grabbed the flag at the Partizan stadium, prompting an angry reaction from Albanian players and an unsightly melee ensued.  Riot police then moved in when around a dozen fans invaded the pitch and attacked the Albanian players, forcing them to retreat into the tunnel as flares were thrown from the terraces. After a delay of around half an hour, English referee Martin Atkinson abandoned the game, which stood at 0-0.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

15th Oct 2014.

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