UEFA to appeal for tougher sanctions on Serbia
UEFA has responded to widespread outrage against the racism
sanctions imposed on Serbia for the abuse directed at England
players during an under-21s match in October by deciding to appeal
against its own disciplinary panel’s verdict.
Serbian fans directed monkey chants at black England players
throughout an ill-tempered match in Krusevac that ended in an
on-pitch brawl between players and coaches from both teams.
The British government led the condemnation against the
perceived leniency of the ?80,000 ($105,000) fine imposed on the
Football Association of Serbia. Several Serbian coaches and players
were also suspended and the team was ordered to play one under-21s
match in an empty stadium.
Despite claiming they were provoked, two England players also
received bans that will take effect at the under-21 European
Championship in June.
While UEFA announced Wednesday it will appeal against all the
sanctions imposed on Serbia and England by its independent control
and disciplinary body, the governing body highlighted the racist
abuse by fans.
”Having reviewed the motivated decisions for the sanctions
imposed … the UEFA disciplinary inspector felt it necessary to
immediately confirm his intention to appeal on UEFA’s behalf,”
European football’s governing body said in a statement.
UEFA was lobbied by the English Football Association and groups,
including Football Against Racism in Europe.
”UEFA now have an opportunity to send out a message,” FARE
executive director Piara Powar said. ”It takes a lot of honesty
and self-reflection to admit that one arm of the organization got
it wrong … what happened warranted a harder sanction.”
Serbia’s punishment drew unfavorable comparisons with the
?100,000 fine given to Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner for wearing
sponsored underpants at Euro 2012 in June.
UEFA President Michel Platini had indicated he was likely to
seek tougher sanctions against Serbia, having previously urged its
government to enact stricter laws and to do more to tackle violence
and discrimination by its fans.
UEFA’s panel imposed international bans on four Serbia players
of between two and four years, while two coaches were banned from
football for two years. Parts of their punishments were
England won the match 1-0 to advance to the under-21 European
Championship in Israel.
The English FA previously said it would appeal suspensions for
defender Steven Caulker (two matches) and midfielder Thomas Ince
England coach Stuart Pearce said Caulker and Ince were not
aggressive and were only protecting themselves. UEFA’s appeal could
result in those sanctions being reduced or overturned.
The post-match brawl began after England defender Danny Rose
complained about being subjected to monkey chants every time he
touched the ball. He was sent off after the final whistle for after
kicking a ball into the stands, gesturing to the crowd as he walked
off the pitch.
The appeals will not be heard until after the Jan. 8 deadline
for all sides to challenge the ruling.
Serbia FA general secretary Zoran Lakovic previously
acknowledged that the Balkan country is on its ”last warning”
from UEFA and would not appeal.
Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris