- 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 the former 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 has been halted after Romanian fans were 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
Kosovo’s independence has been recognised by about 100 countries, including the UK and the US. However, some countries such as Russia, 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.
Tensions between the two nations 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 sent off.
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 a delay of more than 30 minutes, 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 then tried to engage in conversation with the ultras responsible for leading the chanting, with match officials then meeting with 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’.
The game was level at 0-0 at half-time.
MORE TO FOLLOW