Serbia v Albania violence: Uefa opens inquiry into ‘inexcusable’ clashes

Serbia are likely to have to play some of their remaining qualifiers behind closed doors, while Albania also face heavy sanctions from Uefa after it opened disciplinary proceedings following “inexcusable” scenes of disorder on the pitch in Belgrade on Tuesday night, the Guardian reports.

The Uefa president Michel Platini said he was deeply saddened by the scenes, which were sparked when a drone carrying a flag bearing a “Greater Albania” insignia was flown over the stadium, leading to the match being abandoned after 40 minutes.

“Football is supposed to bring people together and our game should not be mixed with politics of any kind. The scenes in Belgrade last night were inexcusable,” said Platini. Fifa’s president Sepp Blatter added: “Football should never be used for political messages. I strongly condemn what happened in Belgrade last night.”

Serbia has a history of crowd trouble and could face having to play several matches behind closed doors, beginning with their next qualifying tie against Denmark on 14 November.

Albania are also likely to be sanctioned for their part in provoking the melee, given that there is already a precedent for disciplining national associations for flags and banners flown by their supporters.

It was the refusal of the Albanian side to return to the pitch, having been threatened by fans and stewards, that resulted in the match being abandoned. Both teams are also liable to be hit with hefty fines.

Albania and Serbia, who did not ask to be kept apart in the qualifying process but agreed not to travel with away fans, will have seven days to present their cases with a decision on 23 October.

Serbian media have claimed that the drone was controlled by Orfi Rama, brother of the Albanian prime minister Edi Rama, from the VIP section. The Serbian government has confirmed that he was arrested at the stadium but later released.

The Uefa match delegate, Harry M Been, said: “We regret the situation. You all saw what happened and I cannot comment on who is to blame or what to blame. I will submit a report with my colleagues to Uefa and Uefa will decide what will happen further.”

Serbian and Albanian fans have a long history of violence and racial abuse. In October 2010, the Italy-Serbia Euro qualifier was disrupted in Genoa by violent Serbia fans. Uefa awarded Italy a 3-0 win.

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