Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday led calls for European football’s governing body to take a tough line against Serbia after claims several England under-21 players were subjected to racist abuse.
The British leader was said to have been “appalled” at the scenes from the match in Krusevac on Tuesday night, which England won 2-0 on aggregate with an injury-time goal to secure qualification for next year’s European championships.
Serbia and England players clash after Tuesday’s U-21 European Championship play off at Stadium Mladost in Krusevac. Pic/Getty Images
Cameron wanted “tough sanctions” against Serbian football if racism is proven, his official spokesman told reporters.
Sports minister Hugh Robertson also backed action over the claims, adding that he had written to UEFA president Michel Platini about the game.
In chaotic scenes, England defender Danny Rose was sent off for kicking the ball away in response to what he said was monkey chanting and physical provocation, as scuffles broke out between players, coaches and supporters at the end of the match. But the Serbian Football Federation denied that any racist abuse was hurled at England’s players and slammed Rose for “vulgar” behaviour.
“The Serbian FA resolutely rejects and denies that there was any racist incident in the Krusevac stadium, before and during the match,” it said in a statement.
It went on to criticise any attempt to tie claims of racist abuse by English players to scuffles that broke out after the match as “malicious”.
The Serbian federation blamed Rose for the events accusing him of “extremely inappropriate, unsportsmanlike and vulgar behaviour towards spectators in the stadium, which is why he got a red card”.
“It will come out that, unfortunately, that was when the incident developed,” it said. Rose, who also said stones were thrown at his head, called for Serbia to be banned from European competition. “I remember getting slapped twice and then I got ushered away. That’s when I kicked the ball — and the referee sent me off. I don’t understand, the game had finished by then but he still sent me off for kicking the ball,” he said.
“As I went off again there was monkey chanting, but the monkey chanting started long before I got sent off,” Rose, who is on loan from Tottenham to Sunderland, told Sky Sports News television.
“After 60 minutes my head wasn’t really on the game. They (Serbia) have to be banned. I don’t understand how else they can learn from it, they have to be banned.”
Robertson said he had given his full backing to England’s Football Association governing body, who have reported a number of incidents of racism to UEFA.
The minister said: “The scenes at the end of the game last night were disgraceful. I have written to UEFA president Michel Platini, in support of the FA, urging them to investigate immediately.
“Racism in any form is unacceptable and must be stamped out. We would expect tough sanctions from UEFA on anyone found guilty of racist abuse.” —