Romanian ultras’ anti-Kosovan banners force 40-minute break in Euro 2024 qualifier

September 13 – The European 2024 qualifier between Romania and Kosovo at the Arena Nationala in Bucharest on Tuesday night was interrupted for nearly 40 minutes because of political banners raised by Romanian ultras.

One banner read ‘Bessarabia is Romania’ and another ‘Kosovo is Serbia’. Match referee Willy Delajod from France, stopped the game and sent the players to the dressing rooms.

The police immediately entered the sector with Romanian ultras to remove the flags. A large part of the rest of the fans in the stadium booed wildly what was happening. In the end, the law enforcement authorities were able to remove the banners and the match resumed.

Kosovo defender Mergim Vojvoda, expressed extreme disappointed after the game, which Romania won 2-0. He said that it was very difficult to give his best after the incident which he said offended the Kosovo players as well as the state of Kosovo.

“We expected this after the draw with Switzerland. They received us without respect. To happen in 2023 is incomprehensible. To keep us inside for 40 minutes is unbelievable. And also insult our state. These things should not happen. They are racism. We were wrong to return to the field”, said Vojvoda.

The Romanian football federation (FRF) issued a statement saying: “The Football Federation of Romania strongly condemns the irresponsible behavior of the group of spectators that led to the interruption of last night’s match between Romania and Kosovo. First, we reiterate the principle by which football is governed in Romania, namely the non-interference of politics in the sporting act.

“Revisionism is not accepted in football and the FRF strongly condemns provocative messages of a political, ideological, religious or offensive nature, which are categorically prohibited in stadiums,” the statement continued.

“All these were recorded in the stands of the National Arena by a small group of so-called supporters, affecting the normal course of the match. The acts of hooliganism were dismissed by the rest of the spectators in the stadium, who were deprived of a football spectacle they wanted and for which they paid a ticket. The FRF regrets the bad experience experienced by the majority of viewers and also thanks them for the fantastic support they gave the ‘tricolors’ in the second half of the match, leading them to a dramatic victory!”

Contact the writer of this story, Aleksander Krassimirov, at moc.l1721796676labto1721796676ofdlr1721796676owedi1721796676sni@o1721796676fni1721796676