LONDON/NYON: UEFA president Michel Platini has been handed a new dilemma over Serbia after the Football Association’s overnight protest about racist and physical assault on England’s players after their Euro under-21 qualifier in Krusevac writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Platini has long-standing ties to Serbia, back to his playing days, and the European federation has long treated the country comparatively leniently over previous race-hate and hooligan incidents in the hope that its government and federation would get a grip.
This policy of patience was revealed as an abject failure last night by violence sparked by Serbian supporters, players and other officials; England defender Danny Rose was red-carded after the final whistle for reacting angrily to apparent racial abuse.
England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce had spoken before the game of his confidence that the issue of racism would not arise. A match between the two countries at the 2007 Under-21 European Championship in Holland was marred when England defender Nedum Onuoha was racially abused. Serbia were fined £16,000 by European governing body UEFA after that incident.
The Serbs were punished by UEFA after their hooligan followers forced the abandonment of a Euro 2012 qualifying tie against Italy after only seven minutes in Genoa in October 2010. They conceded the match by 3-0, were ordered to play one home match behind closed doors and barred from selling tickets for away games.
The complexity of the ongoing Serb scandal is demonstrated by the fact that many Serb players have come under fierce fire from their own fans during home games because of the local ultras’ inter-club rivalries.
Clarke Carlisle, chairman of the English Professional Footballers’ Association chairman, wants Serbia to receive a “significant” international ban.
He said: “You should not have to experience those scenes in this day and age. It was utterly deplorable behaviour. It’s quite farcical. A guy is racially abused and then he gets punished for containing his reaction to that.
“We saw how the whole debacle progressed into punching, kicking . . . we saw photos of headbutts going on in the staff. But Danny Rose for kicking a ball away ends up getting himself sent off. This is just wrong. UEFA need to make a standpoint here . . . the message has to come from the top down that this behaviour will not be tolerated.
“I believe Serbia should be banned because it’s a repeat offence.”
Serbia is involved in another politically complex issue for the world and European football authorities because of its attempt to block requests from seceded southern state Kosovo to be allowed to play friendly matches against FIFA and UEFA member associations and clubs.
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