Serbia - Albania: CAS reverse Uefa decision on 'drone match'

Serbia v Albania
English referee Martin Atkinson called off the match after fans invaded the pitch just before half-time

Albania have been awarded a 3-0 victory over Serbia in a reversal of a Uefa decision made after a European Championship qualifier was abandoned.

Crowd trouble following the appearance of a drone with a pro-Albanian banner had forced the October tie in Belgrade to be called off before half-time.

Uefa had given Serbia a 3-0 walkover.

But the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled it was the reaction of the home fans and stadium stewards that had caused the abandonment after an appeal.

CAS said it was "the security lapses of the organisers and acts of violence exerted on the Albanian players by the Serbian fans" that had forced English referee Martin Atkinson to call off the match.

Uefa had already deducted Serbia three points and ordered them to play their next two qualifiers in an empty stadium, while both countries were also fined £72,000.

The decision leaves Serbia bottom of Group I on one point, while Albania now have 10 points from their first four qualifying matches and are joint-second with Denmark. Portugal top the group with 12 points.

How did the trouble begin?

The Euro 2016 qualifier, refereed by English official Martin Atkinson, was suspended in the 41st minute at 0-0.

Trouble flared when a drone appeared above the pitch, carrying an Albanian flag and a map of "greater Albania" showing nationalist claims on neighbouring states, including Serbia.

Serbia v Albania
Trouble flared when a drone appeared above the pitch, carrying an Albanian flag and a map of "greater Albania"
Serbia v Albania
A Serbia player pulled down the flag and a brawl ensued

A Serbia player pulled down the flag and a brawl ensued during which several Albanian players were attacked by fans.

Atkinson led the players off the field and, after a delay of around 30 minutes, Uefa confirmed the match had been abandoned.

Why was there such a reaction?

Albanian fans had been banned from entering the stadium by Uefa on safety grounds and the match was set against a backdrop of tight security.

Serbia and Albania have a history of turbulent relations, predominantly in relation to the former Serbian province of Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008.

Kosovo has been recognised by the United States and major European Union countries, but Serbia refuses to do so, as do most ethnic Serbs inside Kosovo.

The two nations will meet again in the reverse fixture in Shkoder on Thursday, 8 October.

Serbia v Albania
Police searched players' bags looking for the remote that controlled the device
Serbia v Albania
Uefa had given Serbia a 3-0 win but also deducted them three points
Albania v Serbia
Serbia and Albania have a history of turbulent relations, predominantly in relation to Kosovo
Albania v Serbia
The two nations will meet again in the reverse fixture in Shkoder on Thursday, 8 October

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