LONDON: UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Sports Minister Hugh Robertson have demanded UEFA takes decisive action against Serb football after the explosive incidents at Krusevac writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
England players were subjected to racial verbal and physical assault after defeating Serbia in a European under-21 tie to qualify for the tournament finals. Danny Rose was red-carded after the final whistle for reacting to apparent racist abuse.
A Downing Street spokesman said the government was giving its full backing to a Football Association complaint over alleged racist comments by Serb players.
A spokesman for Cameron said: “He was appalled by the scenes that we have seen in Serbia. We are determined to stamp out racism internationally and at home and we are giving our full backing to the FA’s complaint on this issue.
“Clearly it is for UEFA to investigate this issue but we would expect tough sanctions. If we are going to stamp out racism from football then it is no good giving derisory fines, as have been handed out in the past. It is not good enough to say that people should shake hands and forget about it.”
Robertson, who has written to UEFA president Michel Platini urging an investigation, said: “The scenes at the end of the game last night were disgraceful.
“I have written to Uefa President Michel Platini, in support of The FA, urging them to investigate immediately. Racism in any form is unacceptable and must be stamped out. We would expect tough sanctions from Uefa on anyone found guilty of racist abuse.”
UEFA has received regular criticism for its disciplinary action on racist incidents, with serious cases often receiving lesser fines than those handed down for breaches of marketing regulations.
In the European Championships this summer Nicklas Bendtner was fined £80,000 for wearing branded underpants than nations whose supporters were found guilty of racist abuse.
England players have regularly been subject to racist abuse, with fines handed down to the Slovak, Macedonian, Serb and Hungarian federations in 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2011 respectively. The largest fine was £34,000, levied on Bulgaria, and the smallest £16,500.
Serbia are already on notice from Platini. He warned the federation in 2011 that they could be expelled from Euro 2012 after a meeting with president Boris Tadic. A qualifying game against Italy in Genoa had to be abandoned after only seven minutes when Serbian fans threw flares onto the pitch, burned an Albanian flag and fought with police.
UEFA will study reports from the referee and match delegate before deciding on disciplinary action.
Rose has called for Serbia to be banned from international competition.
He said: “The monkey chants started when we went out for the warm-up. I asked the lads if they could hear it and they said they could. I went to see ‘Wigs’ [coach Steve Wigley] and I told him what was happening and he just said ‘try your best to get through it’ and people would deal with it after the game.
“In the first half I went to get the ball for a throw-in and the fans started with the monkey chanting again. But the first half was nowhere near as bad as the second. Two stones hit me in the head when I went to get the ball for a throw-in and whenever I touched the ball there was monkey chanting.
“After 60 minutes my mind wasn’t really on the game, I was just so angry. It was just so hard to concentrate and I could have cost the lads the game because I made a few mistakes through not concentrating. My mind wasn’t on the game.
“After 90 minutes of abuse I expressed my emotions as soon as we scored. The next thing I know I’ve turned around and the Serbian players had all run over and surrounded me, pushing me and a brawl broke out.
“I remember getting slapped twice and then I got ushered away – that’s when I kicked the ball and the referee sent me off. I don’t understand it, the game had finished.
“They have to be banned. I don’t understand what else they can learn from it, they have to be banned.”
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