FA may boycott Serbia as hosts go on the offensive


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The Independent Online

The Football Association has questioned whether it will send teams to Serbia again after the violent and disgraceful scenes which marred the England Under-21 team's victory there on Tuesday night.

The governing body spoke out after a day of claim and counter-claim during which counterparts in the Balkan country took the astonishing step of attempting to blame a victim of racism, Danny Rose, and denied claims of abuse.

The FA, which has submitted a detailed report to Uefa about the ugly incidents, said England players were bombarded with missiles and became involved in a brawl after the final whistle in Krusevac.

The FA's general secretary, Alex Horne, made clear the disgust felt by English officials: "No football team should be asked to play in any environment where racial abuse, violence and threatening behaviour is prevalent. We must question the validity of sending a team to Serbia in the future."

However, his view could not be much further apart from that of the Serbian FA. In a statement yesterday, it tried to shift the responsibility on to Rose, whose behaviour it described as "inappropriate, unsportsmanlike and vulgar". It also said it "absolutely denies that there were any occurrences of racism before and during the match at the stadium".

The Serbian FA statement added: "Making connection between the seen incident – a fight between members of the two teams – and racism has absolutely no ground and we consider it to be a total malevolence."

That position taken by the national body was totally at odds with the reaction of the media there and shocked most commentators in Britain, including the Prime Minister, David Cameron, who was "appalled".

Rose was surrounded by opposition players after celebrating his side's victory in scenes among the ugliest involving an England team in years.He was subjected to repeated and intense monkey chants and then, bizarrely, was sent off for taking exception to them. Players had missiles thrown at them and were bombarded after Connor Wickham's goal in the 1-0 victory ensured that Stuart Pearce's team qualified for the European Championship finals.

Rose was furious about his treatment in Serbia and called for the nation to be banned from the European game. He said: "They started monkey-chanting straight away in the warm-up and I asked the lads if they could hear it and they said they could hear it. In the first half, when I went to get the ball for a throw-in, the fans were starting again with the monkey chant but the first half was nowhere near as bad as the second half."

Rose's father, Nigel, urged a stronger punishment than the usual fines which Uefa issues in cases of racism. "Something seriously needs to be done about this. They can't keep saying a £20,000 fine is acceptable, because it isn't. It is not acceptable behaviour at all, it is terrible."