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

suspended.

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

(one match).

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