Fri, Oct 19, 2012 - Page 18 News List

UEFA charges Serbia, England after brawl

AP, LONDON

UEFA opened disciplinary proceedings against both Serbia and England and a police probe was ordered from Belgrade on Wednesday after alleged racist chanting and brawls at an ill-tempered under-21 match.

The Serbian hosts were charged by UEFA with misconduct over the racial abuse its fans allegedly hurled at England players from before kickoff in Krusevac on Tuesday night.

However both federations face action for “improper conduct” over the scuffles that broke out on the pitch between the teams after the match, which England won 1-0 to secure qualification for the 2013 European Under-21 Championship.

In Belgrade, Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic ordered a police probe.

The bitterness between the two nations was emphasized by their respective statements on Wednesday, with the English Football Association (FA) suggesting it might decline to send teams to the Balkan nation in the future and the Serbians emphatically denying racism and denouncing the visiting players.

However, the FA was backed by the British government which wrote to UEFA president Michel Platini on Wednesday demanding “tough sanctions.”

“A number of England players were subject to extreme provocation and racism,” Sports Minister Hugh Robertson wrote to Platini.

British Prime Minister David Cameron was also said by his Downing Street office to be “appalled by the scenes.”

“We are determined to stamp out racism overseas and at home and we are giving full backing to the FA’s complaint,” Cameron’s spokesman Steve Field said.

However, the Serbian FA denied in a statement that there was any racial abuse “before or during the match” of England players.

Serbia laid the blame for the incidents squarely on England defender Danny Rose, claiming he “behaved in inappropriate, unsportsmanlike and vulgar manner towards the supporters for which he was shown a red card.”

“Unfortunately, that led to the incident that followed,” the Serbian FA statement said.

The English FA responded with a statement insisting its players and staff “were subjected to racial abuse, violence as well as missiles” throughout the match.

“FA officials made UEFA officials aware of racist abuse from sections of the crowd aimed at a number of England’s black players at halftime on Tuesday evening,” FA General Secretary Alex Horne said. “This matter was discussed again during a meeting with UEFA after those disgraceful scenes which followed the final whistle.”

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

Rose was sent off after kicking a ball into the stands after the final whistle following apparent provocation.

“The monkey chanting started long before I got sent off,” Rose told British broadcaster Sky Sports. “After 60 minutes my head wasn’t really on the game. They have to be banned. I don’t understand how else they can learn from it. They have to be banned.”

Rose said he complained to assistant coach Steve Wigley about problems when the team went out to warm-up before the game.

“They started the monkey chanting straight away. I asked the lads if they could hear it and they said they could hear it,” Rose said. “Halfway through the warm-up I went to ‘Wigs,’ the assistant manager, and told him what was happening. He said I had to try my best to get through it and they would deal with it straight away after the game.”

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