Europe

Serbian youngsters get year ban

Serbian player Milos Ninkovic, left, and England's Danny Rose, right, and Craig Dawson, center, clash
Milos Ninkovic (L) is one of two Serbia Under-21 players to be banned for a year.
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The Serbian football association has banned two Under-21 players for a year following the unsavory scenes at the end of this month's European Championship qualifier against England.

Nikola Ninkovic and Ognjen Mudrinski have been suspended from all national teams for their part in a mass brawl after England booked their place in the finals with a 1-0 win in Krusevac.

A statement from the FSS also revealed two staff members, Srdjan Maksimovic and Andreja Milutinovic, had also been suspended for two years.

"Having reviewed the television footage of the incidents, the FSS disciplinary committee decided to ban Ninkovic and Mudrinski from playing for Serbia at any level for a period of one year," a statement on the FSS website read.

"Also, staff members Srdjan Maksimovic and Andreja Milutinovic have been banned from their coaching duties at any level for Serbia for two years. All four have violated the FSS ethics and fair-play code."

The sanctions were handed down at a special meeting of the FSS's disciplinary committee after the governing body carried out an investigation into the trouble after the match.

Players from both teams clashed on the pitch following the final whistle amid accusations of racism from the stands towards England left back Danny Rose.

UEFA subsequently charged both countries while the Football Association reported "a number of incidents of racism to UEFA".

The FSS initially denied any form of racism towards the England players, but subsequently called an investigation in which all of the players and staff involved were asked to give statements.

After the sanctions were handed down former Serbia international Savo Milosevic, who is now the country's director of national teams, condemned the behavior of the players and officials involved.

"First of all, I do not dare to comment on the sentence," he said.

"Regardless of that I would suggest that in the future this or similar behavior will not be tolerated.

"As such it is not and will never be acceptable to all those in the Serbian FA."

Rose was sent off after the game had ended for kicking the ball away in anger at what he perceived was racist abuse from the crowd.

Video footage after the match appeared to reveal sections of the crowd making chants at Rose, who clashed with Ninkovic as he left the pitch.

The Serbian player later claimed he had confronted Rose because he had made "inappropriate gestures" at the crowd.

"The guy three or four times made inappropriate gestures towards our fans," said Ninkovic.

"I was angered by his reaction so I rushed over to explain to him that he should not do that.

"I did not mean to hit him or insult him. I walked over to him and pushed him.

"A lot of his behavior annoyed me but I know I was wrong and I know I will get a fine. I just hope it will not be too big."

The English FA sent UEFA a full dossier of evidence, including the video footage and a catalogue of incidents which they reported to match officials during and after the match.

FA general secretary Alex Horne also questioned whether they will play matches in Serbia again.

Horne said in a statement: "We were shocked and appalled by the disgraceful events that occurred in Serbia.

"Our players and staff were subjected to racial abuse (and) violence as well as missiles being thrown at them throughout the match. What occurred is inexcusable and not acceptable.

"No football team should be asked to play in any environment where racial abuse, violence and threatening behavior is prevalent. We must question the validity of sending a team to Serbia in the future."

Serbian FA president Tomislav Karadzic later apologized for his players' behavior but claimed they were not solely to blame.

The cases will be dealt with at a meeting of UEFA's control and disciplinary body on November 22.

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