FIFA President Sepp Blatter has said that he will "discuss the widely criticised sanction" levied on Serbia's Under-21 team with UEFA President Michel Platini, and called for "strong, harsh punishment when it comes to racism and discrimination," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. Platini is "believed to be seriously considering an appeal against the decision" of UEFA's independent disciplinary panel after it fined Serbia €80,000 ($105,000) and ordered "one match to be played behind closed doors" as punishment for racist chants from the crowd and violence on the pitch during and after their European Under-21 Championship against England in October. Blatter said, "I will take up a discussion with the president of UEFA, but I don't know if he has an influence on his disciplinary committee. We will ask details of the file but I repeat we have it in our organisation that there must be very, very strong, strong punishment." Platini will fly back from Japan on Monday and "has three days from receiving the file to decide whether to appeal" the decision of UEFA's committee. The English FA has "already indicated they will appeal the decision" to suspend players Steven Caulker and Thomas Ince for their part in the fracas (GUARDIAN, 12/15). In London, Dickinson & Ducker reported FA Chair David Bernstein expressed his dismay over UEFA's "weak sanctions against Serbia" in a phone call with Platini. Kick It Out Chair Herman Ouseley described Serbia's punishment as "paltry" and has called for matches to be stopped if there is racist chanting. Ouseley: "Games should be stopped and sections of the crowd who are behaving badly should be shown the door" (LONDON TIMES, 12/15).
FIFPRO, PFA SPEAK OUT: In London, Scott-Elliot reported a number of Premier League managers as well as the Professional FA and global player representatives FIFPro "added their voices to those already condemning the level of punishment." PFA CEO Gordon Taylor is writing to Platini calling for "stronger action" while FIFPro General Secretary Theo van Seggelen said his members "can no longer accept the abuses in Eastern Europe. The image of pro football is at stake." Show Racism the Red Card CEO Geb Grebby said, "UEFA have shown yet again that they do not take racism seriously, despite claiming to take a 'zero tolerance' approach to racism, the sanctions faced by the Serbian Football Association are an insult to the England players who were subjected to violence and racist abuse throughout the game." The PFA "similarly see it as an opportunity missed to issue a deterrent." Taylor: "This is a totally inadequate fine which sends a very poor message out to the football world" (INDEPENDENT, 12/15).
HARSHER PENALTIES NEEDED: Also in London, Rob Liddle opined a UEFA independent panel, "presumably wearing pointy white hoods and robes, effectively exonerated the Balkan savages." One game to be played in front of no spectators and a fine of £65,000 ($105,000) -- "just a little less than Nicklas Bendtner was fined for wearing the logo of his sponsor on his underpants." It is "utterly unacceptable for black players to receive the sort of racist abuse which they received in Serbia and which, habitually, is directed towards them at all points from Cadiz to Kiev." The Serbian business was "made all the worse by the bare-faced denials that any form of racism was directed towards the likes of England’s Danny Rose." In a sense, the Serbs’ response was "worse than the original offence, in that it sort of officially condoned racism." Which is where our own Football Association comes in. It should tell FIFA and UEFA that it will "play no matches in Serbia, for an indefinite period, unless a stringent punishment is imposed and the Serbs, to the best of their abilities, will guarantee that black players will henceforth be subjected to no racist abuse whatsoever" (SUNDAY TIMES, 12/16).