Pro-Serbia Chants Halt Romania-Kosovo Soccer Match

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

    The Facts

    • Tuesday's Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Euro 2024 soccer qualifying game between Romania and Kosovo in Bucharest was suspended for 45 minutes after home fans aimed pro-Serbia chants and banners at the visiting players 18 minutes into the game.

    • Romanian ultras were shouting and displaying banners reading "Kosovo is Serbia" when French referee Willy Delajod decided to halt the game. A separate banner that read "Bessarabia is Romania" was also displayed about a region that's currently divided between Moldova and Ukraine.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    Given that opposing soccer fans must nurture a healthy rivalry and refrain from acting like wartime enemies, it's evident that stadiums are no place for promoting divisive political messages. The ultras have outrageously expressed their views as if they represented the entire nation despite potential negative implications.

    Narrative B

    Whether sports governing bodies like it or not, Kosovo is an integral part of Serbia despite its admission to FIFA, as the UN has never recognized Kosovo as an independent state. It's completely inadmissible that people and organizations remain threatened and punished for simply stating the facts.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that Serbia will recognize Kosovo by February 2040, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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