Serbia PM Orders Police Probe Into Racial Taunts Of England Players
Serbia PM Ivica Dacic " is ordering a police investigation" into racist chanting directed at England’s players during the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championships playoff match Tuesday night in Krusevac, Serbia, according to Sam Munnery of the LONDON TIMES. Dacic, who is also Serbia’s police chief, said that those who took part in the scuffles that broke out on the pitch after the final whistle must be identified and “brought to justice.” Dacic added that "it was too soon to call it a racist incident." UEFA opened disciplinary proceedings on Wednesday over the “improper conduct” of both teams and the racist chanting by Serbian fans, which was caught on video, hours after the Serbian FA had "issued a blanket denial" that its fans were involved in “any forms” of racism (LONDON TIMES, 10/18). In London, Jack Pitt-Brooke reported that the FA has "questioned whether it will send teams to Serbia again" after Tuesday's violence. The FA spoke out after a dispute in which Serbian counterparts took "the astonishing step" of attempting to blame a victim of racism, England player Danny Rose, and "denied claims of abuse" (INDEPENDENT, 10/18).
IS BANNING TEAMS THE ANSWER?: In London, Matthew Syed opined, "The credibility of UEFA, for so long a governing body in search of a mission, is on the line." The racist chants at England players in Krusevac "demand a swift and punitive response." The failure of the Serbian authorities to control the problem of racism is "matched only by the impotence and general hand-wringing of UEFA." Banning Serbia's Under-21 side from the next competition "is a bare minimum." The "most powerful way to send a signal to the rest of football and the wider world would be to ban the Serbia national team" (LONDON TIMES, 10/18). The London INDEPENDENT wrote an editorial under the headline: "Banning teams is the way to tackle football racism." The newspaper wrote, "The European sport's governing body has a feeble record on tackling racial abuse. Now is UEFA's chance to send an unequivocal message that there is no place for racism in football. A fine is not enough. Serbian teams must be banned from playing in Europe" (INDEPENDENT, 10/18). REUTERS' Zoran Milosavljevic wrote, "Even a ban from int'l soccer may not prove enough to rid Serbia of its perennial problems with racism and hooliganism, such is the deep-rooted intolerance among fans." UEFA said that it "was waiting for the referee's report before deciding what action would be taken" (REUTERS, 10/18).