The race for the 24 team UEFA 2016 Finals in France: LE-RENDEVOUZ EN FRANCE, has had both exciting and one sided contests so far. In order to increase the excitement and TV matches, each round has been spread over a 6 day period from Thursdays to Tuesdays.
. What we didn't want is any violence, politics or ultra nationalism, as shown at The Partizan Stadium in Belgrade before, during and after the volatile SERBIA v ALBANIA contest. UEFA has kept teams apart in this and previous tournaments if they felt that there would be problems. Gibraltar was drawn in Spain's group but was then placed elsewhere. Georgia and Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, Turkey and Cyprus are other contests that needed to be avoided.
They have three criteria; do teams have diplomatic relations, are they at war, and have they asked to be kept apart. Serbia and Albania agreed to play home and away-their capitals are only 200 miles distance- providing that no visiting fans were allowed entry. The return leg would be played in the southern city of Elbasan next year, where they recently tied Denmark 1-1 after beating Portugal away. The national stadium in Tirana has been torn down and is being rebuilt.
Despite the presence of over 3,500 Serbian riot police and troops, there was a volatile atmosphere on the streets of Belgrade and inside the stadium. The Albanian national anthem was booed, flares were thrown onto the pitch, laser beams, a NATO flag was burned and nasty chants and singing. At 41 minutes a drone carrying a GREATER ALBANIAN flag drifted over the stadium. Serbian defender Stefan Mitrovic jumped up to pull it down and has attacked by two Albanian players. Then the benches emptied, fans ran onto the pitch, an Albanian was head butted by a Serbian substitute and English referee Martin Atkinson took both teams off the pitch. The Albanians were pelted with objects as they raced for the safety of the tunnel, where two local stewards reportedly attacked them.
Reports stated that the brother of the Albanian Prime Minister EDI RAMA-who is supposed to visit Belgrade next week- had guided the drone in from his seat in the V.I.P box. He denied it. As you know, the main job of diplomats is to lie for their country !! The Serbian F.A. offered to empty the stadium and have the match continue, but the visitors, quite rightly, refused. HARRY BEEN a very experienced Dutch and UEFA official was the lead match assessor and the reports from him, the referee and other sources were quickly passed to the independent discipline commission.
Albanian captain Lorik Cana thanked his opposite number, Branislav Ivanovic for protecting his team as best he could. A number of Ultras from Red Star Belgrade including the notorious thug IVAN BOGDANOV, invaded the pitch and attacked the Albanian players. He had helped cause the abandonment of an ITALY v SERBIA match on 12th October 2012 in Genoa, for which he received a prison sentence. HOW DID HE AND HIS ULTRA THUGS GET INTO THE STADIUM?? One of the most well known and recognizable Serbians? In 2009 a visiting Toulouse fan was murdered.
I would be happy to see both countries kicked out of the tournament, but I don't think that will happen. AT LEAST all future Serbian matches must be behind closed doors..with NO politicians allowed. Maybe the return leg moved to The Torsvollur Stadium in the Faroe Islands or even Nuuk Stadium in Greenland, in winter with fans only allowed inside the stadium in their underwear !!!