England U21 players charged in Serbia
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP)
Serbian police filed charges Tuesday against 12 people, including two unidentified England players, over their part in a pitch brawl after an under-21 soccer match marred by alleged racial abuse.
Police in the town of Krusevac, where the match was played on Oct. 16, said that those charged ''committed an act of violence during a sports event.''
Police said five Serbia and two England players were charged, in addition to assistant coaches from both teams. Serbia fans were also charged for igniting flares during the match.
Their names were not given, but England assistant coach Steve Wingley was seen taking part in the brawl, while Serbian players Nikola Ninkovic and Ognjen Mudrinski have already been suspended by the country's FA for a year for the incidents.
If Serbia's public prosecutors accept the police charges and take the matter to court, those accused could face prison sentences if convicted.
The English Football Association has said it will give its full support to its players and staff.
Players and officials from both teams clashed on the pitch following the final whistle amid accusations of racist abuse from the stands toward England defender Danny Rose, who was sent off for kicking a ball into the stands.
The Serbian team has accused Rose of triggering the incidents after the final whistle with inappropriate gestures toward the crowd. He said he was racially abused with monkey chants throughout the match.
England won 2-0 to qualify for the U21 European Championship.
After the incident, FA General Secretary Alex Horne said Rose had been the target of racial abuse and threatened to refuse sending teams to play in Serbia in the future.
''No (soccer) team should be asked to play in any environment where racial abuse, violence and threatening behavior is prevalent,'' Horne said.
UEFA has charged both countries' associations for the brawl, and promised tough action against Serbia for the racial abuse.
The cases will be dealt with at a meeting of UEFA's control and disciplinary body on November 22.