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Uefa heavily criticised for Serbia sanctions

CHARGED: Ince, left, and Caulker, second right, have been given match bans by Uefa

FOOTBALL’S FRATERNITY showed a united front in its condemnation of events – involving racist chanting and abuse from Serbian fans – that transpired in October during the England Under-21s match against Serbia.

However, since Uefa announced, after delaying its investigation, that the Serbian football federation would be fined £65,000 for its match-day failures, and that black English players, Stephen Caulker and Tom Ince, would be banned two and one games, respectively, outrage and disappointment has been expressed toward Michel Platini’s organisation.

The Ferdinand brothers, Anton and Rio – the former the victim of racially abusive language from Chelsea’s John Terry – used their Twitter accounts to vent their dismay at Uefa’s decision.

“UEFA not serious at all on racism. Fines do not work at all. They have zero impact on federations/clubs/fans/players”, wrote older sibling, Rio.

“UEFA need to talk to this generation... they don’t seem to be up to date on this issue. Harsh punishments needed as a deterrent #simple”, added the Manchester United centre-back.

His younger brother, who plays for Queens Park Ranger, cited a previous Uefa fine against Denmark’s Nicklas Bendtner, who was charged £80,000 for revealing his branded underwear of a non-approved Uefa sponsor, to highlight perceived misguided priorities.

“Wow UEFA ain’t serious with there (sic) punishment. So showin (sic) a sponsor is worst (sic) than racism and fighting”, tweeted the 27-year-old.

The FA, which has not escaped criticism of how it handled domestic racism cases – namely the Terry and Luis Suarez incidents, voiced its surprise at Uefa’s judgment.

“We are disappointed with the sanctions levied by Uefa with regards to the racist behaviour displayed towards England’s players”, said the FA's general secretary, Alex Horne. “It is The FA’s vehement belief that its players and staff acted correctly in the face of provocation, including racist abuse and missiles being thrown.

“We are therefore surprised to see that two of our players have been given suspensions.

“We shall await Uefa’s reasoning but it is our intention, at this stage, to support our players and appeal these decisions.

"Let’s be clear, racism is unacceptable in any form, and should play no part in football. The scenes were deplorable and we do not believe the sanction [Serbia's £65,000 fine] sends a strong enough message”, Horne added.

The chair of the Society of Black Lawyers (SBL), Peter Herbert, who has been a vocal critic of the FA, calling it “institutionally racist”, this time sided with English football’s governing body, and blasted Uefa’s verdict.

“[We] condemn the pathetic fines imposed on the Serbian FA. Uefa failed to even mention that the fine was for the racist behaviour of Serbian fines”, Herbert said.

“The bans on the two English Under-21 players are a complete disgrace after the
racial abuse and physical abuse they suffered. SBL supports the FA appeal.

“Serbia FA should itself face a ban on hosting international teams until it has taken effective measures to combat racism. The two or four match bans imposed on Serbian players are utterly ridiculous and further undermine the credibility of UEFA to combat racism”, he added.

Lord Herman Ouseley, who has announced he is stepping down from his FA duties after recently coming out to attack the organisation’s “weak and slack” response to racism, did not hold back on Uefa either.

“It’s a fiasco; but it’s a typical Uefa fiasco. They were never going to take
action that was going to prevent this from happening again,” the Kick It Out chairman told The Voice.

“Until Uefa recognise that these slap-on-the wrist and pathetic disciplinary actions are not going work then we are going to be back here again.

“I am disappointed by Uefa, but not surprised.

“Uefa really need to come into the 21st century. They need to have more black and ethnic minorities involved in their organisation who have experienced bad treatment to really understand the punishments that are needed.

“They should have automatically suspended the Serbian team from international football and thrown them out of the competition,” Ouseley added.


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