Show Racism the Red Card is angered and frustrated by the insignificant sanctions handed to the Serbian Football Association by, European football’s governing body, UEFA.
“UEFA have yet again shown that they do not take racism seriously, despite claiming to take a “zero tolerance” approach to racism, the sanctions faced by the Serbian Football Association are an insult to the England players who were subjected to violence and racist abuse throughout the game."
Ged Grebby, SRtRC Chief Executive
Last night, Serbian football authorities were fined £65,000 and the Serbian Under-21 team were forced to play their next game behind closed doors after scenes of violence and racism at a recent Euro 2013 qualifying match.
The match, between the Serbian Under-21s and England Under 21s, which took place in October 2012 at the Stadion Miadost in Kruševac, Serbia, was marred by racism from the very start and ended with violent confrontations on and off the pitch.
In addition to the enforced behind closed doors game and the fine, Four Serbian players were suspended for between two and four matches while two members of the coaching staff were suspended for two years. England players, Thomas Ince and Steven Caulker also face bans for “improper conduct”, despite video evidence clearly indicating that they reacted under extreme provocation. Danny Rose, one of the players at the centre of the incident, is to receive a one match ban for kicking the ball away in protest at monkey-chants and missiles being thrown at him throughout the match.
Chief executive of Show Racism the Red Card, Ged Grebby said:
“UEFA have yet again shown that they do not take racism seriously, despite claiming to take a “zero tolerance” approach to racism, the sanctions faced by the Serbian Football Association are an insult to the England players who were subjected to violence and racist abuse throughout the game. We are calling for a one year ban for the Serbian team from all competitions. UEFA needs to send a message that racism will not be tolerated.”
It is clear from the Serbian Football Association’s initial denial that any racism actually took place that there is a lot of work to be done in changing attitudes within the country’s footballing authorities.
The Serbian FA described Danny Rose’s behaviour as "inappropriate, unsportsmanlike and vulgar."
The spokesperson for the Serbian FA went on to say:
"The FA of Serbia absolutely refuses [sic] and denies that there were any occurrences of racism before and during the match at the stadium in Krusevac. Making connection between the seen incident – a fight between members of the two teams – and racism has absolutely no ground and we consider it to be a total malevolence”.
"Unfortunately, after the fourth minute of the additional time and the victory goal scored by the guest team, unpleasant scenes were seen on the pitch.”
"And while most of the English team players celebrated the score, their player number three, Danny Rose, behaved in [an] inappropriate, unsportsmanlike and vulgar manner towards the supporters on the stands at the stadium in Krusevac, and for that he was shown a red card."
Show Racism the Red Card recognises that there is a need for an anti-racism campaign in Serbia and offers its full support to organisations within the country who wish to help rid the game of racism.
Anti-racism campaigns in the UK have helped to change the attitudes of football supporters up and down the country. It’s now time that UEFA and the Serbian Football Association recognise that there is a problem and action needs to be taken.
Show Racism the Red Card’s Leroy Rosenior, who also works as a TV pundit and has played football for Fulham, West Ham and QPR, said:
“Uefa has again sent out a message that racism for them is no serious matter. They fine Man City 25k for being 1 minute late onto the pitch, so by their reckoning 3 minutes late is as serious as the disgraceful scenes witnessed in Serbia! Totally unacceptable!”
Dave Anderson, Member of Parliament for Blaydon and long-time supporter of the Show Racism the Red Card Campaign added:
“Yet again the Football authorities have shown their weakness and put making money before making a stand. The very public build up of frustration in the ranks of black players should gave sent a clear message to those in the UEFA ivory tower that continuing to slap the wrists of serial offenders is not going to stop racism. But they have failed to act properly and, in doing so, they have given a nod to the racists that it’s Ok to keep having a go at players simply because of the colour of their skin. No doubt they will deny this but actions always speak louder than words and so do in-actions.”
Football Against Racism in Europe have also expressed their disappointment at the sanctions, Executive Director Piara Powar said "This is a moment in which leadership to challenge discrimination is needed from all authorities. This sanction falls short of that objective."