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Drone Sparks Political Uproar at Soccer Game

Albanian leader's brother denies flying device bearing controversial message
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2014 11:54 AM CDT
Drone Sparks Political Uproar at Soccer Game
A drone with an Albanian flag flies over Partizan Stadium during a match between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade, Serbia, on Oct. 14, 2014.   (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

(Newser) – A soccer game turned into an international incident in Serbia yesterday after a drone bearing a controversial political message flew over the game. The atmosphere was already fraught; amid tensions between the countries, Albania's team hadn't been to Belgrade since 1967. During the game, a drone appeared carrying a flag that said "Greater Albania"—the concept of a territory for all ethnic Albanians, an area that would cover Kosovo, CNN reports. Serbia doesn't accept Kosovo's 2008 independence.

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A Serbian player took hold of the flag, and a riot ensued; flares were thrown and fans poured onto the field. Albanian players tried to protect the flag, the AP reports, and Serbian fans fought with the team. The game was cut short, and international soccer regulators are planning sanctions against both Albania and Serbia. To complicate matters further, a Serbian official tells CNN that the person flying the drone was none other than Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama's brother, Olsi. But Olsi Rama rejects the claim in an AP interview: "They want to justify the situation that went beyond their control," he says. (Read more Albania stories.)

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