BELGRADE: Serbia’s football federation, in a bid to minimise serious punishment by UEFA over the explosive under-21 tie against England, has acted against its own players and coaches writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The Football Association registered an official protest with the European federation about the racist abuse and assaults on several England players during and at the end of the under-21 qualifier in Krusevac two weeks ago.

UEFA has charged both associations over the behaviour of their players at the final whistle.

Now the Serb federation – seeking to demonstrate its contrition and responsible reaction – has suspended banned players Nikola Ninkovic and Ognjen Mudrinski from all national teams for their part in a mass brawl after England’s 1-0 win. Coaching staff members Srdjan Maksimovic and Andreja Milutinovic have also been suspended for two years.

A federation statement read: “Having reviewed the television footage of the incidents, the FSS disciplinary committee decided to ban Ninkovic and Mudrinski from playing for Serbia at any level for a period of one year.

“Also, staff members Srdjan Maksimovic and Andreja Milutinovic have been banned from their coaching duties at any level for Serbia for two years. All four have violated the FSS ethics and fair-play code.”

The stateent followed a special meeting of the FSS’s disciplinary committee to study its own investigation into the trouble after the match. Players from both teams clashed on the pitch following the final whistle amid accusations of racism from the stands towards England left-back Danny Rose. Immediately after the game the federation had denied any racist abuse.

Savo Milosevic, former World Cup striker who is Serbia’s director of national teams, condemned the behaviour of the players and officials involved.

He said: “This or similar behaviour will not be tolerated. As such it is not and will never be acceptable to all those in the Serbian FA.”

Rose was sent off after the game had ended for kicking the ball away in anger at what he perceived was racist abuse from the crowd.

Video footage after the match appeared to reveal sections of the crowd making chants at Rose, who clashed with Ninkovic as he left the pitch.

The Serbian player later claimed he had confronted Rose because he had made “inappropriate gestures” at the crowd.

Ninkovic said: “The guy [Rose] three or four times made inappropriate gestures towards our fans. I was angered by his reaction so I rushed over to explain to him that he should not do that. I did not mean to hit him or insult him. I walked over to him and pushed him . . . I know I was wrong.”

The cases will be dealt with by UEFA’s control and disciplinary body on November 22.

# # #