The fallout has continued following the shameful scenes which erupted after the final whistle in England’s victory over Serbia in the Under 21 Euro 2013 play-off match in October 2012.
Black members of the English team were racially abused throughout the game by sections of the crowd, and tensions erupted after the game following Connor Wickham’s 90th minute winner which handed England a one nil victory.
The English FA complained vociferously to UEFA in the weeks that followed, however UEFA did not listen to their pleas to deal with the Serbians firmly, and they instead opted to hand down the relatively lenient punishment of playing their next competitive under 21 fixture behind closed doors, having 6 members of their playing and coaching staff banned for the next two years, as well as being fined a measly £65,000.
The English FA were displeased with this outcome, however what left them particularly incensed with UEFA was the incredulous decision to heap further punishment upon some of the English players whom were subjected to racist abuse. Danny Rose was sent off following the final whistle for reacting to the vile taunts that were inflicted upon him and Thomas Ince and Steven Caulker were handed one and two game bans respectively for their roles in the chaos that ensued after the final whistle, and UEFA are now considering increasing those bans.
My view is that the whole situation has been a complete shambles from start to finish. Not only did UEFA fail to deal with the perpetrators of the racism effectively, which makes a mockery of their stance of a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards racism, but they also found time to rub salt into the wounds by heaping punishment on the victims in this sorry episode. UEFA should of dealt with the Serbians far more effectively than they did.
Playing one game behind closed doors and being fined £65,000 is not a proportionate punishment for the crime that was committed. Racism is not a problem exclusive to Serbia, and unfortunately it is prevalent all over Europe and indeed the world. The only way that it will ever be stamped out of the game effectively is if the authorities deal with it in a far harsher manner than they have done in the past.
Until that happens, racism will continue to exist at football stadia throughout the globe. Caulker’s two-game ban but will now instead do a day’s community service.
From Steven’s point of view he was delighted to hear the news that his two-match suspension is overturned. That’s very much welcome from his point of view. For both players this is their last opportunity to go to an Under-21s tournament.
FA spokesman Scott Field talking to BBC Radio 5 live