The appalling images from the Under-21 European Championship qualifier between Serbia and England shocked the world, highlighting the deeply-entrenched racist beliefs from certain sections of the Eastern European country.
All of those who saw the highly distressing scenes will know it was not the actions of a minority, but sections of the whole stadium making ugly monkey chants and rude gestures to England’s black players.
The sheer injustice concerning the fallout from the match was there to see, with Danny Rose being sent off at full time despite being the victim of serious racial abuse and merely showing his frustration at the final whistle.
The brawl was equally unsavoury with players, coaches and officials being caught up in the melee; something which saw both sides charged.
Serbia are now fixating on this brawl and have since outrageously claimed that there was no racist chanting in the stadium, despite ample evidence to the contrary.
Serbian senior team coach and former player, Sinisa Mihajlovic, has recently made the vomit-inducing comments that his country will receive a greater punishment than England as they are a “small fish” in comparison.
Mihajlovic is ignoring the issue of racism, but that is hardly surprising considering he was once found guilty of racially abusing former Arsenal captain Patrick Viera in his playing days.
These comments display the man’s ignorance, with UEFA taking a very lenient stance against Serbia in the past; especially after Nedum Onuoha and Justin Hoyte were the victims of racist abuse when the two sides met in 2007. The result was a paltry £16,000 fine for the Serbian FA.
UEFA have since intimated that another fine would not work after unsurprisingly not having the desired impact last time; and Michel Platini indicated that harsher measures will be used.
It would be nice to have faith in Platini’s statement, although one could be forgiven for being sceptical as UEFA deem branding of an unauthorised sponsor as a more serious offence than racism; demonstrated by Nicklas Bendtner brandishing the Paddy Power logo on his boxers after celebrating a goal at Euro 2012.
The only option for UEFA and to show they are serious about tackling racism in the game is to ban Serbia from all international competitions for the foreseeable future; thereby forcing them to get their act together before gracing the world stage.
Racism is a cancer that is destroying football in the country; and the nation’s morally upstanding football fans will surely be appalled by the scenes in Krusevac.
It is time for Platini and UEFA’s big wigs to stand up and be counted.
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