Government backs football family over strong stance on England under-21s fixture
The government has called for “tough sanctions” after Prime Minister David Cameron gave his full backing to a complaint registered by The Football Association following the events which occurred during and after the England under-21s match against Serbia on Tuesday (16 October).
UEFA has since charged the Football Associations of England and Serbia over the behaviour of both sets of players at the final whistle of the Euro 2013 qualifying match. The Serbian FA has also been charged with alleged racist chanting by fans.
Downing Street officials said the Prime Minister was “appalled” by the scenes. A spokesman commented: “He was appalled by the scenes that we have seen in Serbia. We are determined to stamp out racism internationally and at home and we are giving our full backing to The FA on this issue.
“Clearly it is for UEFA to investigate this issue but we would expect tough sanctions. If we are going to stamp out racism from football then it is no good giving derisory fines, as have been handed out in the past. It is not good enough to say that people should shake hands and forget about it.”
Sport minister Hugh Robertson concurred, confirming he has written to UEFA president Michel Platini. “The scenes at the end of the game were disgraceful,” he said. “I have written to president Platini in support of The FA. 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.”
FA general secretary Alex Horne called for UEFA to “take the strongest possible action against anyone found guilty of being involved in the numerous instances of violence and abuse”.
A statement read: “We were shocked and appalled by the disgraceful events that occurred in Serbia. Our players and staff were subjected to racial abuse, violence as well as missiles being thrown at them throughout the match. What occurred is inexcusable and not acceptable.
“After collating evidence from those present, including an FA crowd advisor, we have made a formal complaint to UEFA. We call on UEFA to take the strongest possible action against the Serbian FA, their supporters and anyone found guilty of being involved in the numerous instances of violence and abuse.”
Kick It Out chair Lord Herman Ouseley supported The FA’s “swift action” in reporting the incidents, saying: “First and foremost, the thoughts of everybody at Kick It Out are with the England under-21s players and coaching staff, and our
colleagues at The FA.
“These are ambassadors for our game and to see them treated like this is a disgrace. These events must be acted upon and the campaign praises The FA for taking swift action in reporting a number of racist incidents to UEFA.
“It is now down to UEFA as the regulatory body governing this fixture to investigate the matter fully, and is an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to ensuring incidents like this don’t happen again.”