While most quadcopter users are happy enough attaching cameras to their flying machines to capture what they hope’ll be some stunning aerial footage, one bright spark thought he’d attach a political banner to his and fly it over a soccer field during an international game between two countries for whom relations have traditionally been tense. The result? A mass brawl between the two sides that caused the game to be abandoned.
The incident (shown below) took place Tuesday night in the Serbian capital of Belgrade during a European Championship qualifying match between Serbia and Albania.
The match, which saw crowd trouble outside the stadium prior to kick-off, was always going to be a highly charged affair. There’s a long-running tension between the two nations, primarily over Kosovo, a province with an Albanian majority that declared independence from Serbia six years ago. The game was also the Albanian national team’s first visit to Belgrade in 47 years. In a failed effort to ensure the match passed off without incident, UEFA, which oversees European soccer, banned visiting fans from entering the stadium.
The remotely operated quadcopter buzzed over the field in the 41st minute of the game carrying a pro-Albanian banner on the end of a long piece of string. As the drone descended, Serbia defender Stefan Mitrovic managed to grab the banner, but as he started to wrap it up, angry Albanian players piled in.
The situation descended into a messy brawl as match officials and players from the bench joined the melee. When Serbian fans started to throw objects at the Albanian players, the visiting team ran for cover. Hardly surprisingly, the game was abandoned a short time later.
Serbian state media later reported that Olsi Rama, the brother of Albanian leader Edi Rama, had been arrested after it was alleged that he’d been behind the stunt, operating the banner-carrying quadcopter from one of the stadium’s VIP boxes.
While the incident is unlikely to herald the beginning of a drone-powered banner-waving trend at sports events, it suggests that this relatively new technology still has plenty more surprises up its sleeve.
Oh, and for those interested, the quadcopter at the center of Tuesday night’s incident appears to be a DJI Phantom 2 machine.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com