On October 14, Serbia and Albania gathered at Belgrade’s Partizan Stadium to face off in the EURO 2016 qualifying stage. Then things got ugly. A violent melee erupted as players, fans and police threw punches—and even plastic chairs—at one another, compelling referees to abandon the match and forcing the Albanian squad to fly back to Tirana immediately.
This match always had the potential to be explosive. Six years ago, Kosovo, whose population is predominately Albanian, unilaterally declared independence from Serbia. Relations have been strained ever since.
In the hours and days that have followed, Albanian Eurovision stars have come out in the name of peace. Anjeza Shahini, Kejsi Tola, Juliana Pasha, Rona Nishliu and Hersiana Matmuja all took to social media to air their frustration.
Eurovision 2012 – Rona Nishliu
Rona Nishliu, who gave Albania its best result in Eurovision with her 5th place in Baku, delivered a very strong message.
To all Serbians, Serbian friends, my fellow citizens – Kosovo Serbs, all those people from Belgrade who were present at my concert exactly a month ago in Belgrade Philharmonics Hall, and those Serbian fans of my music who prefer to remain private with their messages and compliments,
We all saw that what Belgrade had to offer tonight was a severe case of national racism. However, I suspect UEFA will find a way out of this mess for your team, like every other time.
This is why I would like to invite you all to a decent, peaceful, and beautiful match next year in Albania, free from hooligans and religious zealots.
Sport is a celebration, so you are all invited to bring your flags and add colours and nuances to this celebration!
Please, spread this message, even privately, and come and let’s just watch a football match next time!
Eurovision 2008 – Olta Boka
Olta Boka, who sang at Eurovision 2008 in Belgrade, knows how the Albanian national team felt after being booed throughout the match. She posted a photo collage of her representing Albania in Serbia, watching the match with Kejsi and Juliana and the flag that was flown in the match.
I know what it means to be in Serbia and represent your country.
Guys, you bleed the veins of hero. Albanian blood!
Proud to be Albanian!
Eurovision 2010 – Juliana Pasha
Juliana Pasha, the 2010 Albanian representative, shared a petition ‘UEFA: Investigate Serbia for racism and violence, not for “field disturbance”’and said:
Let’s do it together and sign this petition for the right of the Albanian nation.
Earlier, Juliana was angry in regards to what was happening in Belgrade!
In Belgrade, all Albanian flags are being burnt.
Shame, shame, shame for Serbia
Eurovision 2014 – Hersiana Matmuja
The most recent Albanian representative Hersiana Matmuja also shared the petition ‘UEFA: Investigate Serbia for racism and violence, not for “field disturbance”’ and asked her fans to sign it. She told her fans:
It’s not fair what happened in Belgrade.
Eurovision 2004 – Anjeza Shahini
Albania’s very first Eurovision representative was furious.
#Donottouchmyflag These frames stand proud in our walls and no chance in the world to touch with your hands, bastard. (Sorry for the arrogance. It is inevitable)
What do you think of the Albanian representatives involvement in the Serbia-Albania football match conflict and what is your opinion?