This evening, Stuart Pearce’s England U21 side defeated Serbia U21’s 1-0 away from home in a injury time winner thus securing their place in Euro 2013.
The scenes in the final minute or so at Krusevac after Connor Wickham scored the only goal of the game, thus clinching an aggregate win of 2-0 over two legs can only be described as incredibly disgraceful, however, I shall leave it to you to decide below.
The FA are rightly incensed at what it’s players and staff had to endure from large sections of the crowd, some of whom are believed to have gotten on the field, together with Serbian players and couching staff who attacked English players and staff.
A statement from the FA was issued:
‘The FA has reported a number of incidents of racism to Uefa following the fixture. These were seemingly aimed at a number of England black players by the crowd. The matter is now with Uefa.‘
Further, in what is a most bizarre twist, Tottenham’s Danny Rose who was racially abused at the game was also given a red card for kicking the ball away!
Paul Ince, commentating for ESPN noted, ‘it’s disgraceful to see these scenes,’ and was so incensed with what he saw he called for Serbia to be banned from competitions for the next 10 years or so.
This is not the first time racism in Serbian football has been raised, and nor is this the first time ugly incidences such as this have occurred against England either. In 2007, Nedum Onuoha in another U21 game, amongst others.
For far too long UEFA and others have danced around and allowed racism, xenophobia and homophobia to survive among a large number of fans in the football stands of countries in places like Eastern Europe where any sanctions imposed for serious transgressions like those witnessed this evening are penalised ineffectively, thus providing a green light to ‘Ultras’ to continue their odious campaigns, normally tied with reactionary right-wing nationalist political movements.
I hope that a fitting punishment is handed to the Serbian FA, a ban from international competitions until 2016 at least with a UEFA task force setting out what commitments it needs from the Serbian FA, together with a time table for its implementation. A monitoring team should be sent to review the effectiveness of the plan, its progress and report periodically to UEFA.
I love football because it is known as the ‘People’s Game’, and it is. The best teams are those where the colour of someone’s skin or where they are from means nothing, it is their skill, technique, athleticism and vision that counts. It is played anywhere and everywhere by everyone (except Americans, but that’s changing). Racism has no place in football or anywhere for that matter and the sooner that these pockets of intolerance are wiped away the better, then more may be able to enjoy such feats as this.