UK govt urges UEFA to sanction Serbia over racism

LONDON — The British government wrote to UEFA President Michel Platini on Wednesday demanding “tough sanctions” against Serbia following the racial abuse of England players by fans during an ill-tempered under-21 match.

By (AP)

Published: Wed 17 Oct 2012, 5:04 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 2:46 AM

Abuse was hurled at the England players throughout Tuesday’s game in the Serbian city of Krusevac, with monkey chants heard in the stadium.

After England’s 1-0 victory, which secured qualification for the 2013 European Under-21 Championship, scuffles broke out between fans, players and coaching staff.

Serbia had previously been warned by Platini that ongoing crowd trouble at matches is risking its teams being banned from European competitions.

The English FA reported a “number of incidents of racism” to UEFA immediately after the match, and that was followed by sports minister Hugh Robertson writing to Platini on Wednesday “urging them to investigate immediately.”

Downing Street said that British Prime Minister David Cameron was “appalled by the scenes” and wants UEFA to impose “tough sanctions” against Serbia’s football body.

“We are determined to stamp out racism overseas and at home and we are giving full backing to the FA’s complaint,” said Cameron’s spokesman, Steve Field. “If we are going to stamp out racism from football then it is no good handing out derisory fines as has happened in the past.”

In a reference to a much-criticized suggestion by FIFA President Sepp Blatter last year, Field said: “It is no good telling players to shake hands and forget about it.”

England defender Danny Rose complained on Wednesday that trouble had been brewing throughout the evening.

He was sent off after the final whistle following apparent provocation, gesturing to the crowd that he was racially abused.

“The monkey chanting started long before I got sent off,” Rose told British broadcaster Sky Sports. “After 60 minutes my head wasn’t really on the game. They have to be banned. I don’t understand how else they can learn from it. They have to be banned.”

Rose said he complained to assistant coach Steve Wigley about problems when the team went out to warm-up before the game.

“They started the monkey chanting straight away. I asked the lads if they could hear it and they said they could hear it,” Rose said. “Halfway through the warm-up I went to ‘Wigs,’ the assistant manager, and told him what was happening. He said I had to try my best to get through it and they would deal with it straight away after the game.

“In the first half I went down to get the ball for a throw-in and the fans started again with the monkey chants, but the first half was nowhere near as bad as the second half. In the second half I had two stones hit me on the head when I went to get the ball for a throw-in. Every time I touched the ball there was monkey chanting again.”

More news from Football