Kosovo’s players WALK OFF the pitch during their Euro 2024 qualifying clash against Romania after fans chanted ‘Kosovo is Serbia’, while they also unfurled banners with the same offensive message
- Kosovo faced off against Romania in a tense Euro 2024 qualifier in Bucharest
- The visitors walked off the pitch in the first half after anti-Kosovan chanting
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast It’s All Kicking Off!
Kosovo’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Romania was halted after Romanian fans were heard chanting ‘Kosovo is Serbia’.
The offensive gesture – which also included banners being unfurled in the stands by Romanian supporters with the same message – resulted in the Kosovan players leaving the pitch before they headed to the changing rooms.
Only 19 minutes of the clash had been played, with the score level at 0-0 at the time of the suspension.
Kosovo and Serbia are at odds due to that fact that Kosovo is a mainly ethnic Albanian-populated territory that was formerly a province of Serbia. It declared independence in 2008.
However, Serbia has refused to recognise this and still considers it part of the country, despite having no formal control there.
Kosovo’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Romania was halted after Romanian fans were heard chanting ‘Kosovo is Serbia’, while they also unfurled banners which said the same thing
The offensive gestures resulted in the Kosovan players leaving the pitch after just 19 minutes
Romania is one country that refuses to recognise Kosovo’s independence from Serbia in 2008
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Kosovo’s independence has been recognised by about 100 countries, including the UK and the US.
However, some countries such as Russia and China still side with Serbia, while Romania is another nation to not recognise its independence.
The deadlock has resulted in tensions continuing and means the Balkan region remains unstable following the bloody wars during the 1990s.
Hostilities between Kosovo and Serbia have simmered over recent months and resulted in several renowned figures commenting on the issues.
This included tennis star Novak Djokovic, who wrote a message on a camera lens at the French Open back in May which read: ‘Kosovo is the heart of Serbia! Stop the violence.’
The clash between Romania and Kosovo eventually resumed after a 50 minute stoppage but showed no signs of becoming less feisty with six yellow cards in the first half, while Kosovan striker Vedat Muriqi was also sent off.
The anti-Kosovan chanting came from the Romanian ultras at the Arena Nationala in Bucharest
The clash was delayed for 50 minutes as organisers and officials tried to resolve various issues
When the game resumed the tension didn’t ease with six yellows and one red in the first half
Before the game even begun, Romanian ultras chanted ‘Serbia, Serbia’ when the Kosovan anthem was played, which led to stadium officials playing the anthem even louder to cover the sounds as ethnic tensions escalated in Bucharest.
After the delay, stadium announcers then sent out a message which said: ‘Efforts are being made to restart the match. Please stop chanting our neighbour’s name! Revisionism is not tolerated by UEFA. This is the final warning.’
Riot police and security officials also tried to engage in conversation with the ultras responsible for leading the chanting, with match officials then meeting UEFA delegates.
A final warning was sent out by stadium announcers, before they urged supporters not to ‘chant our neighbour’s name. Don’t show the same banner’.
A separate banner that read ‘Bessarabia is Romania’ was also unfurled in the same stands as the anti-Kosovan one.
This slogan is a popular and commonly used Romanian nationalist one which claims that the region of Bessarabia is Romania, despite it being divided between Moldova and parts of Ukraine.
Tension on the football pitch between Kosovo and Serbia is perhaps best-remembered through Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri’s actions at the World Cup.
The Swiss stars – who are of Kosovan descent – celebrated their goals during a 2-1 win over Serbia by making an eagle gesture, resembling the double headed eagle of the Albanian flag. Albania traditionally has complex and unfriendly relations with Serbia.
The politically-charged game between Romania and Kosovo was level at 0-0 at half-time.
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