August 27, 2015 / 1:17 AM / 4 years ago

Balkans out-score EU at Vienna diplomacy football

Austria's Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz (L) and Kosovo's Foreign Minister Hashim Thaci fight for the ball during a politicians' soccer match ahead of the Western Balkans Summit in Vienna, Austria, August 26, 2015. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

VIENNA (Reuters) - The European Union might have had a better start, but in the end it was the Balkan countries who brought the game home in this unlikely diplomatic football match on Wednesday to kick off the Western Balkan summit in Vienna.

Team “FC EU”, made up of Austria’s foreign minister and EU officials, looked in good shape but swiftly crumbled and suffered a 2-4 defeat against their rivals “FC future EU”, including prime ministers and delegates from Balkan countries who in the 1990s fought a bitter war against each other.

More used to long dinners and protracted negotiations of anything from border disputes to trade cooperation, officials from Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Bosnia ran little but were lucky their opponents missed so many chances.

Macedonia’s Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski scored two of the winning goals, but not without some encouragement his Serb goal keeper.

“I know you are the Prime Minister, but you really need to start running a little bit,” shouted Serb Energy Minister Aleksandar Antic.

Reporting by Karin Strohecker and Ivana Sekularac

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