Serbia vs Albania (found footage of abandoned UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying match; 2014)

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This article has been tagged as NSFW due to its discussion of football hooliganism and nationalism.



Serbiavsalbania1.jpg

Stefan Mitrović retrieving the flag that would trigger an on-pitch brawl.

Status: Found

Date found: 1 May 2022

Found by: Pietro

On 14th October 2014, Serbia hosted Albania in an international football match held at Partizan Stadium, in Belgrade. In what should have been a match contributing towards qualifying for UEFA Euro 2016, the encounter became infamous as it was abandoned after 42 minutes following an on-pitch brawl triggered by a drone entering the stadium with a provocative flag.

Background[edit | edit source]

Even before the game took place, concern emerged when Serbia and Albania were drawn into the same Euro 2016 qualifying group, Group I, on 23rd February 2014.[1][2] Indeed, the relations between the two countries were tense, because of severe conflict surrounding the legitimacy of Kosovo following the Kosovo War.[3] Nevertheless, despite calls for the teams to be split into different groups to avoid further aggravation, UEFA refused to do so.[2] The organisation stated that since neither nation had directly battled each other in wars, nor had either the Albanian or Serbian Football Associations requested the other be kept separate from it, it felt there was no legitimate reason to modify the drawn groups.[2] As a result, Albania travelled to Belgrade for the first time since 1967.[4]

Heading into the clash, Albania and Serbia had already played a few qualifying matches, in a group also featuring Denmark, Armenia, and eventual Euro 2016 champions Portugal.[1] In its opening game, Albania surprised Portugal, winning away 1-0.[5] The team would then draw 1-1 with Denmark.[6] Meanwhile, Serbia was held to a 1-1 draw against Armenia.[7]

The Match[edit | edit source]

The match itself took place on 14th October 2014, in front of 25,200 fans.[8] The vast majority in attendance were Serbian, because UEFA and the Serbia Football Association agreed to not allow any Albanian fans into the stadium should they be found with Albanian national symbols.[9] In the end, only 45 Albanian fans attended the game in-person.[10] Even before the game began, it was clear the football match itself would be overshadowed by crowd trouble, as the attendance began chanting "Kill the Albanians" in Serbian,[8][11] with the Albanian national anthem being booed and with some fan burning NATO flags.[12][13] By the time the match ended at the 42nd minute, the score was still 0-0.[4][8] Based on match reports, Serbia largely dominated play, with Albania utilising defensive tactics.[4][14] According to ESPN, Albania's Ansi Agolli's free-kick was the best chance of the game, where it was passed to Mergim Mavraj, whose shot was tipped just wide by Serbian goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic.[15]

The Drone and the Brawl[edit | edit source]

Throughout the match flares and firecrackers were thrown onto the pitch, some of which were near the players' tunnel.[16][17] It was also reported that a fan used a laser pointer to distract Albanian players during a corner kick.[16][17] At the 35th minute, Albania attempted to take a corner kick, only for flares and other items to be thrown at the corner taker and an assistant referee, with a firecracker also exploding nearby.[16] Three minutes later, rocks were thrown into Albania's technical area.[16] Referee Martin Atkinson decided to suspend play for 40 seconds so that a stadium announcer could warn fans against throwing projectiles onto the pitch. However, this did little to calm matters, as more items including bottles were thrown,[18] After more flares were thrown onto the pitch, Atkinson again suspended play at the 41st minute mark.[4]

While the match was suspended, the audience and television cameras began to fixate on a drone that entered the stadium, carrying a provocative flag.[4] The flag in question showcased the faces of Ismail Qemali and Isa Boletini, who are deemed to be the founding fathers of modern Albania. It also had a map showcasing Greater Albania, the date 28 November 1912 which was when the Albanian Declaration of Independence was signed, and the word "autochthonous".[13][4][14] The flag angered both the fans, who started chanting "Kill the Albanians" and "Death to Albanians",[19] and the Serbian players, leading to defender Stefan Mitrović jumping up to retrieve the flag to thunderous applause from the attendance.[4] However, this action enraged Albanian players Andi Lila and Taulant Xhaka, prompting a scuffle between players, with Albania's Bekim Balaj snatching the flag from Mitrović to take it off the pitch.[4][14]

As he attempted to run off the pitch, a Serbian supporter suddenly ran on and attacked Balaj with a plastic chair.[4] Lorik Cana, Albania's captain, responded by taking the fan down and punching him.[20] At this point, the scuffle turned into a major brawl from both teams and their substitutes, as well as the fans, pitch stewards and other staff.[13] Atkinson had no choice but to force the players off the field, with fans wielding and throwing items including chairs against Albanian players.[4][14][20] As the Albanian players ran towards the player tunnel, some faced being punched and kicked by supporters who had managed to bypass riot security.[4][20] Because of the hooliganism experienced throughout play, it was decided 30 minutes after the game was suspended for it to be abandoned,[4][14] with Albania manager Giovanni de Biazzi claiming four of his players were injured during the brawl.[13] Ismail Morina, an Albanian citizen, claimed responsibility for operating the drone, and was arrested in Croatia in 2017 per an arrest warrant from Serbia.[21] However, after being transferred to an Italian prison, it was reported in July 2018 that Morina had been released, with Serbia's extradition request being denied.[22]

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

Both teams received high praise from their respective countries,[12] with each respective Government blaming the other for the violence.[23] The vast majority of people outside the two nations, including UEFA President Michel Platini and FIFA President Sepp Blatter, condemned the violence that overshadowed the match.[24] Initially, UEFA awarded Serbia a walkover 3-0 win because it ruled that Albania forfeited the game.[25] UEFA would however deduct Serbia those three points and ordered that its next two home games be played behind closed doors, with both FAs fined €100,000.[25] After UEFA declined the appeals from both FAs,[26] proceeds reached the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), as neither the Albanian nor Serbian Football Associations were happy with the decision.[16] A decision was made on 10th July 2015, with CAS rejecting Serbia's appeal and partially upholding Albania's claim that the match was forfeited by Serbia.[16][27][28]

Due to CAS' decision, Albania was awarded three points via a walkover 3-0 win, while Serbia lost its three points on top of still facing a three-point deduction.[16][27][28] The teams would meet again on 8th October 2015, at the Elbasan Arena in Elbasan.[29] Here, Serbia claimed victory with the visitors scoring two goals in added time to win 2-0.[29] Despite the result, only Albania qualified for the final tournament, scoring 14 points to finish second in the group behind Portugal and two points ahead of Denmark to earn an automatic qualifying spot.[30] Albania would lose to Switzerland and hosts France, before winning against Romania,[31] although this would not be enough for it to progress to the last 16 as one of the highest performing third-placed teams.[32] In contrast, Serbia endured a disastrous qualifying campaign, failing to qualify after scoring just four points overall, ahead of only Armenia.[30]

Recovery[edit | edit source]

Despite the match airing live on various television channels across Europe, including Sky Sports,[33] the full coverage of the game remained missing for many years afterwards, with the violence that caused the game to be abandoned most likely preventing it from being re-aired. A few minutes of televised and amateur footage has resurfaced on YouTube and Dailymotion, while clips of the brawl itself can also be easily found.

On 1st May 2022, the Portuguese broadcast of the match from Sport TV would be uploaded to MEGA.nz. The broadcast starts at kick-off and ends at 45:00 + 1:02. Considering the aftermath was already available on other video-sharing websites, the entirety of the match itself has been found.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Videos[edit | edit source]

Amateur and televised footage of the match and brawl.
Amateur footage of the match and brawl.
Amateur footage of the brawl.


Images[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Inside Futbol reporting on the Euro 2016 qualifying group draw. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Guardian reporting on UEFA defending its decision to keep Albania and Serbia in the same group. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  3. Guardian reporting on the Serbia-Albania tensions that existed long before the match. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 BBC News reporting on the match, the fact Albania had travelled to Belgrade for the first time 1967, and the brawl. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  5. BBC Sport reporting on Albania's win over Portugal. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  6. BBC Sport summarising Albania's draw with Denmark. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  7. BBC Sport summarising Serbia's draw with Armenia. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 11vs11 providing match statistics. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  9. Balkan Insight reporting on most Albanian fans being barred entrance into the stadium. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  10. DW noting only 45 Albanian fans were in-attendance. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  11. From Midnight to Glorious Morning?: India Since Independence noting the Serbian chants during the game. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  12. 12.0 12.1 USA Today reporting on the Albania team receiving a heroes' welcome upon returning back home. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 The Washington Post reporting on the flag burning incidents and the drone flag's contents. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 Guardian reporting on the match and the brawl. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  15. ESPN reporting on the chances in the game itself. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 16.6 Court of Arbitration for Sport's report into the brawl. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  17. 17.0 17.1 CNN reporting on UEFA charging both sides for various actions during the brawl. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  18. The Conversation reporting on the items thrown onto the pitch. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  19. Daily Echo reporting on the chants heard throughout hte game. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 ESPN detailing the fights that occurred. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  21. Balkan Insight reporting on Ismail Morina being arrested in Croatia following a Serbia arrest warrant. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  22. AP News reporting on Morina being released from Italian prison. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  23. DW reporting on the finger-pointing from both nations following the brawl. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  24. Guardian reporting on the brawl being condemned and UEFA launching an inquiry. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  25. 25.0 25.1 Guardian reporting on UEFA's initial decision to award Serbia three points and then dock them. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  26. Sky Sports reporting on UEFA rejecting the appeals from both teams' Football Associations. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  27. 27.0 27.1 BBC Sport reporting on Albania being awarded three points following the CAS ruling. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  28. 28.0 28.1 Guardian reporting on Albania being awarded three points following the CAS ruling. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  29. 29.0 29.1 Guardian reporting on the Albania-Serbia game on 8th October 2015. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  30. 30.0 30.1 Guardian reporting on the outcomes of Euro 2016 qualifying group I. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  31. BBC Sport reporting on Albania beating Romania at Euro 2016. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  32. BBC Sport reporting on Albania being knocked out of Euro 2016. Retrieved 6th Feb '22
  33. Sky Sports' video on the match and brawl. Retrieved 6th Feb '22