Soccer Drone Aftermath

Drones continue to cause trouble at outdoor events, with one incident at a Euro 2016 qualifying match between Serbia and Albania still having ramifications on the major soccer tournament. 

Photo: AP Photo / Darko Vojinovic, File

In October 2014, an unmanned aircraft emerged above the playing field at Belgrade’s Partizan Stadium brandishing an Albanian flag that included the disputed Kosovo region as part of “Greater Albania.” Kosovo had declared independence from Serbia in 2008 The controversial image sparked outrage from fans and players alike, leading to an on-field melee and forcing the match to be abandoned in the 41st minute.

Initially Albania’s team was punished, but upon appeal the Court of Arbitration for Sport decided that Albania had not refused to play on in a hostile atmosphere in the Serbian capital as European football’s governing body had initially ruled. CAS ruled that Serbia was responsible for the European Championship qualifier not being completed and had to forfeit the match, due in part to security lapses.

Serbia had been awarded a default 3-0 victory by UEFA but then deducted three points and ordered to play its next two qualifiers in an empty stadium. The two sides are set to rematch in Albania Oct. 8.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, addressing Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, tweeted: “We’ll win the match, without drones and anybody’s help in the stadium.”