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Albania says stones, concrete, coins hurled at players

16 October 2014, 22:56

Tirana - A chunk of concrete, stones, coins and lighters were hurled at Albania's players and officials before and during the match against bitter rivals Serbia that was abandoned amid onfield clashes, the Albanian FA said Thursday.

While both countries blame each other for the violence now being investigated by UEFA, Albanian Football Association president Armando Duka demanded a "complete and independent" inquiry into the events that have further poisoned relations between the countries.

An Albanian FA statement said its team bus had been pelted with stones before the European Championship qualifier, a chunk of concrete was thrown at the delegation and "coins, lighters and other objects" were hurled at players on the pitch.

The game was halted after a drone carried a pro-Albanian flag over the Belgrade stadium on Tuesday night, sparking fighting between the two sides.

Serbia's foreign minister has called the flag stunt a "political provocation" by Albania. Albania said Serbian supporters and even police and stadium security had ramped up hostilities.

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"The facts are clear, the proof is there and we demand above all a complete and independent inquiry into the incidents reported before, during and after the Albania-Serbia football match," Duka told AFP.

"The aggressors must be punished by all institutions including Serbian justice," he added.

An Albanian FA statement said the team bus "was hit with stones thrown by Serbian fans."

The Albanian delegation led by Duka "was hit with a piece of concrete" which has been handed to UEFA for its investigation, the statement added.

At the end of the warm-up before the game, the Albanian players were "hit by a shower of coins, lighters and objects as they were making their way to the tunnel."

Throughout the warmup, the crowd shouted "Kill the Albanians" or "Death to Albanians" and dozens of Serbian fans poured over fences onto the pitch.

Throughout the game, "stones, hard objects, lighters and pyrotechnics" were thrown onto the pitch and at three players who were trying to warmup as substitutes, the statement added. Fans hit Albanian players with stools.

The Albanian FA said that Serbian supporters, security stewards and police hit the Albanian players as they left the field when the game was halted.

Serbia's Football Federation has said the drone stunt was "political sabotage" and that the Albanians refused appeals by the UEFA delegate to carry on playing.

The federation said fans who invaded the field had only sought to retrieve the flag showing a greater Albania.

Serb and ethnic Albanian forces fought a war over Kosovo, the mainly Albanian province once under Serbian control which declared independence in 2008. The Belgrade government has never recognised the move.

UEFA has opened a formal probe against the Serbian federation over the crowd disturbances, while the Albanian FA faces charges of refusing to play and displaying an illicit banner. The case will be heard on 23 October.

UEFA president Michel Platini described the scenes as "inexcusable".

"Imagine if there had been a bomb instead of a flag on the drone," Platini told French television channel TF1.



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