Serbian FA blames 'aggressive' Albanians for 'scandalous' abandonment

Uefa has confirmed it has opened disciplinary action against both sides but the home team in Tuesday's suspended Euro 2016 qualifier believe they will be absolved from blame

The Serbian Football Association has blamed the “aggressive” Albania team and provocation from visiting fans for the "scandalous" abandonment of Tuesday's Euro 2016 qualifier.

Flares were thrown on to the pitch by home fans in Belgrade before visiting supporters flew a drone on to the pitch carrying a pro-Albanian flag which stoked the heavy political tensions already clouding the clash.

The game went from being stopped momentarily to complete chaos when Stefan Mitrovic ripped the banner down from the drone, causing Albanian players to react angrily.

The scuffle quickly escalated into a full-scale brawl and Albania's team had to flee to safety inside the stadium as home fans stormed the field, leaving referee Martin Atkinson no choice but to suspend the game.

Despite the scores being level at 0-0 when the match was called off just before half-time , Serbia's FA suggests their team were en route to a home win and that Albania's team, players and FA prevented that outcome with their actions.

"The Football Association of Serbia expresses regret that the match between Serbia and Albania did not finish in a sports manner, as a very important event of two countries' best teams should have," it said in a statement on Wednesday.

"In an atmosphere that has not been seen for a long time in Serbia, with support of fans acting like one, Serbian national team players, playing a good game, were heading towards an important victory on their way to France 2016.

"Unfortunately, a provocation from the opponents was started by entering a flag of non-existing so-called "Great Albania" that as such offends feelings of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece citizens with help of a drone that came from outside of the stadium.

"That was continued by inappropriate scenes on the pitch, so the match was not finished in the usual way and therefore our national team players lost chance to show who had better quality in a fair, sportsmanlike and chivalrous contest.

"At one point, Serbian player Stefan Mitrovic caught the flag and started to fold it as calmly as possible, in order to give it to the fourth official and for the match to be continued.

"Absolutely all of the Serbian players and officials on the bench were in their seats, calm and without any attempt to show force or rage because of the incident.

"However, Albanian players acted very aggressively and physically attacked Mitrovic."

Uefa confirmed on Wednesday that it had begun disciplinary proceedings against Serbia for "for the setting off/throwing of fireworks and missiles, crowd disturbance, field invasion by supporters, insufficient organisation and use of a laser pointer".

Albania are under similar scrutiny from the European football governing body and could potentially face action for "refusing to play and the display on an illicit banner" in Tuesday's match.

Serbia's FA, however, is refusing to entertain the notion that the cause of the fallout can be placed on its doorstep and branded the actions from Albania "scandalous" and expects the disciplinary actions against them to be dropped.

"We declare under full responsibility that the match referee and the match delegate made a decision for the match to be continued.

"FA of Serbia and our representatives accepted that but unfortunately the people from the Albanian Football Association and their national team did not.

"We welcomed our guests from the Albanian FA in the best possible way. Because of that, we are truly worried by the fact that, after decision of the match officials (delegate and referee) for the match to be continued, they did not do anything for that to happen.

"It is scandalous that the other party, with their "job well done" attitude, is ridiculing not only the FA of Serbia and the Serbian people but also, we dare to say, Uefa.

"The Albanian FA simply took Uefa rules in their own hands interpreting them as they preferred. According to that, we estimate that they are directly guilty for the match abandonment and we expect that Uefa disciplinary bodies will register the match with 3-0 result, in favour of Serbia."

Albania's FA is yet to release a statement following their decision not to return to the field of play after their players were pelted with projectiles as they fled following the brawl.

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