A new use for drones—triggering a politically-charged riot at a Balkan soccer match

Anti-drone countermeasures
Anti-drone countermeasures
Image: Reuters/Marko Djurica
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Albanian football fans were barred from last night’s Euro 2016 qualifying match against Serbia in Belgrade, so Olsi Rama—a former pro basketball player, George Soros staffer, and cancer researcher who happens to be the brother of Albania’s prime minister—allegedly found another way to make an impression on behalf of his country.

According to Serbian police, Rama was in control of the small quadcopter drone that flew over the pitch carrying a flag for “Greater Albania,” which controversially would unite ethnic Albanians living in Kosovo, Serbia, Albania, and other neighboring countries. The drone’s entrance prompted a chaotic brawl between the two teams, sideline officials, and some of the 20,000 Serbian fans in attendance, forcing the cancellation of the match.

The Serbian Interior Ministry said Rama flew the drone from his seat in an executive box within the stadium, and was arrested on suspicion of instigating the riot. However, an Albanian official told Reuters that Rama left the stadium for the airport, and had not in fact been arrested.

Rama, according to his LinkedIn page and a biography from his former job at a Detroit, Michigan-based cancer research center, has published a series of scientific papers on breast cancer detection, formerly worked for the George Soros-funded Open Society Foundation for Albania, and played pro basketball for nine years with the Albanian team Dinamo. Rama was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Quartz through his LinkedIn page.