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Serbia Rejects England UEFA Complaint Of Racial Abuse


UEFA President Michel Platini
UEFA President Michel Platini
Serbia's soccer federation has denied allegations of racist abuse by its fans against English under-21 players during a match in Serbia.

England reported Serbia to European soccer's governing body, UEFA, over the allegations about the match on October 16.

The English Football Association (FA) said in a written statement that it had reported to UEFA "a number of incidents of racism" directed by the Serbian crowd at England's black players.

Serbia could face possible punishment by UEFA if found guilty of racist abuse. The country was given a warning by UEFA's chief against fan misbehavior in 2011.

The trouble on October 16 escalated after England scored an injury-time goal to win the playoff match 1-0 in the southern Serbian city of Krusevac.

The win secured England a 2-0 aggregate victory over the Serbs, allowing England to advance to next year’s Under-21 European Championship.

England's Danny Rose
England's Danny Rose
Immediately after the match, scuffles broke out as Serbs, including some players, reportedly attacked England players and officials, and Serbian fans hurled objects and shouted racist abuse.

Reports say one England player, midfielder Danny Rose, mimicked a monkey by sticking his arms underneath his armpits, to show he had been racially abused.

Rose received a red card from the referee after he kicked the ball into the crowd after the game ended.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said the prime minister was "appalled" by the scenes seen in Serbia. He said the British government was urging UEFA to take tough sanctions against Serbia and not just hand them a "derisory fine."

The English Football Association statement said: "The FA condemns both the scenes of racism and the confrontation at the final whistle during which time our players and staff were under extreme provocation."

English under-21 coach Stuart Pearce said the Serbian team’s technical director, Savo Milosevic, came to England’s dressing room after the match and apologized for the Serbian side’s “unsavory” behavior.

UEFA Warning

After a series of disruptive and violent incidents, Serbia was warned by UEFA in 2011 that its national teams risked being banned from European competitions.

UEFA President Michel Platini, who met with then-Serbian President Boris Tadic in Belgrade in February 2011, said Serbia’s team could be banned from Euro 2012 qualifiers if unruly behavior by Serbian fans continued.

Serbia’s team ended up not qualifying for the Euro 2012 finals, which were held jointly in Ukraine and Poland.

Platini’s warning was delivered after Serbian fans staged a riot, including throwing fireworks onto the field, during a qualifying match against Italy in the city of Genoa in October 2010.

The game was halted after just six minutes due to the unrest, and UEFA awarded the match to Italy.

In September 2009, a French soccer fan died in Belgrade after he was attacked by supporters of the Partizan Belgrade team before a Europa League match against French side Toulouse.

In January 2011, 12 Serbian hooligans were convicted by a Serbian court in connection with the killing. The men received sentences of between four and 35 years in prison.

With reporting by Reuters and AP
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