FLASHPOINT: Steven Caulker (second from right) takes a Serbian Under-21 player to task during the match in Serbia
IN A MOVE that will shock most of the fair minded public, England Under-21 duo Thomas Ince and Steven Caulker have been banned by UEFA over racial incidents that took place during England's controversial win over Serbia in October.
Ince and Caulker have been suspended for one and two matches respectively. Four Serbian players have also been banned, while two of their coaches are suspended for two years.
Uefa, European football’s governing body, has ordered Serbia to play their next competitive under-21 match behind closed doors, and they have also been fined £65,000. Uefa said Serbia were punished due to the "improper conduct of its supporters during and at the end of the match, as well as for the improper conduct of the Serbia players at the end of the game".
Blackpool winger Ince, 20, will sit out England's under-21 game against Italy in June, while Tottenham defender Caulker, 20, will also be absent from the game against Norway in the same month. Uefa's control and disciplinary body dismissed disciplinary proceedings opened against the Football Association.
The match, played in Krusevac, also saw Tottenham’s Danny Rose red-carded after the final whistle for kicking the ball into the crowd.
There are allegations that Rose was racially abused by home fans, who ran onto the pitch after the final whistle and threw missiles at England’s players during the game.
At the time The FA collated a number of racist incidents and reported them to Uefa. In a statement, the FA said it “condemns both the scenes of racism and the confrontation at the final whistle during which time our players and staff were under extreme provocation”.
England’s football governing body added: “The FA has reported a number of incidents of racism to Uefa following the fixture. These were seemingly aimed at a number of England black players by the crowd. The matter is now with Uefa.”
This is not the fist time Serbian fans have faced accusations of racism. In 2007, during the Under-21 European Championship in Holland, the Serbian Football Federation was fined £16,000 when its supporters were found guilty of racially abusing England’s Nedum Onouha.
Just after the incidents in Serbia Paul Ince, father of Tom Ince, urged the heads of Uefa and Fifa, Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter to take meaningful action against the Serbian Football Federation. “It's disgraceful to see these scenes,” said the ex-England midfielder who was the first black player to captain England.
“If it was me, they [Serbia] would be kicked out for the next five tournaments - European, World Cups - but they will get a little ban and that will be it. Things like that are not what we want to see in football. It takes it back to the dark ages. When your son's out there, it's worrying”.
In reaction to Uefa's match bans of the two players, the FA's general secretary, Alex Horne, said: "We are disappointed with the sanctions levied by Uefa with regards to the racist behaviour displayed towards England’s players.
"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”, he added.