Protests broke out across the province, placing the dominant ethnic Albanian majority in open conflict with the state. More than a thousand of Trepca’s miners staged an underground strike for eight days and nights. By 1991, Trepca’s Kosovar players decided to leave the team.
“It was a part of the politics of the Serbian side,” Seferi said. “They said that if you want to carry on playing with us you have to accept our laws, our government. We were against it.”
Instead, Kosovo formed an illegal, parallel soccer league, holding games on improvised fields on short notice. “The police would stop games in the middle and arrest everyone, sometimes hold them for three days or sometimes just let everyone go,” said KF Trepca’s president, Ajet Shosholli.
While the new Trepca team labored on poor fields and washed in freezing rivers after their games, FK Trepca continued in the lower reaches of the Yugoslav league without most of its Albanian players. “It felt horrible seeing them play,” Seferi said. “We were playing in the countryside, getting injured. We got arrested. Bullied. But we kept playing.”
After eight years…