Uefa issue 'paltry' fine to Serbia for 'disgraceful' behaviour of fans and also ban two England Under-21 players
Serbia's Under-21s must play a game behind closed doors while Steven Caulker and Thomas Ince are suspended
Uefa's decision to order Serbia's Under-21s to play their next match behind closed doors and fine them €80,000 (£65,000) for the despicable scenes during October's match against the England Under-21s has been met with derision.
Sports minister Hugh Robertson said he was "disappointed" while Lord Herman Ouseley, chairman of football's anti-discrimination group Kick It Out, called the punishment "paltry".
Following the second leg of a 2013 European Championship play-off in Krusevac, which England won 1-0 for a 2-0 aggregate triumph to reach next year's finals in Israel, ugly scenes flared.
Connor Wickham's injury-time strike resulted in missiles being thrown on to the pitch that was invaded by a number of fans, whilst players and officials from both sides clashed before leaving the field.
There was also a backdrop of alleged racial abuse from the stands as England claimed some of their black players were victims.
Full-back Danny Rose, dismissed after the final whistle for kicking the ball away in anger, complained he had been particularly targeted.
Just 90 minutes after the game had ended, the FA made their feelings plain, issuing a statement condemning the racism - reporting a number of incidents to Uefa - and the confrontations that occurred, claiming England's players "were under extreme provocation".
Talk of strong punishments and an opportunity for Uefa to make a stand against racism followed in the resulting days.
Yet today's punishment continues the weak response from European football's governing body that many commentators feel has been a stain on the organisation headed by Michel Platini.
Professional Footballers' Association chairman Clarke Carlisle was amongst those who suggested Serbia should receive a "significant" international ban.
Even Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "appalled" at the scenes, stating Britain expected "tough sanctions" if racism was proven.
That call was endorsed by Sports Minister Robertson who went so far as to write to Uefa president Platini, in support of the FA, urging his governing body to take strong action.
Rose also stood his ground as he said he was "slapped twice" before he was dismissed following a game in which he claims he was subjected to "monkey chanting" throughout.
FA general secretary Alex Horne described the events in Serbia as "disgraceful", and suggested England would "question the validity of sending a team to Serbia in the future".
The £65,000 fine is less than was the £80,000 meted out to Nicklas Bendtner at Euro 2012 after the Danish striker exposed underwear with a sponsor's name on it.
Among Uefa's wide ranging punishments, English duo Tom Ince and Steven Caulker have been banned for one and two games respectively.
Horne says the FA are considering appealing those suspensions.
Serbia fitness coach Andreja Milunovic, who attacked England officials, has been banned for two years, the second of which is suspended for three years. Serbia assistant coach Predrag Katic was also banned for two years, the final six months of which suspended for three years.
Four Serbia players were also banned - Goran Causic for four matches, Ognjen Mudrinski and Filip Malbasic for three and Nikola Ninkovic for two.
In a statement, Uefa said Serbia's punishment was due to the "improper conduct of its supporters during and at the end of the match, as well as for the improper conduct of the Serbia players at the end of the game".
A day after the incident, the Serbian FA countered the FA's claims, denying there were any racist chants before and during the game, whilst claiming Rose behaved in an "inappropriate, unsportsmanlike and vulgar manner" towards their fans.
Uefa quickly charged the Serbian FA with racist chanting, whilst also issuing a further charge to them and the FA with failure to control their players.
The Serbians at least later reacted strongly in one sense by issuing lengthy bans to two players and two officials for their part in the melee that occurred after the game.
Discussing today's announcement, Serbian FA secretary general Zoran Lakovic admitted the sanctions were "a final warning".
He said in a statement: "Though this case followed a very large media campaign, I do not think the members of the Uefa control and disciplinary commission were influenced by that.
"If we take into account what the drastic proposed penalty by the disciplinary inspector Jean-Samuel Leube we have not been hit so hard.
"I believe that this is a final warning to all of us who work in Serbian football, including coaches and players and fans, because for even the smallest mistake Uefa can now impose the most rigorous punishment."
Lord Herman Ouseley, chairman of football's anti-discrimination group Kick It Out, slammed the sanction for Serbia as "paltry".
He said: "Kick It Out shares the concerns of many in football that abuse aimed at black players isn't taken seriously enough. This is a paltry slap on the wrist and again we haven't seen decisive action from Uefa ."
Sports minister Hugh Robertson also expressed his disappointment.
Robertson said: "I am disappointed in the punishment that has been awarded to the Serbian FA given the widespread racist abuse that England's Under-21 team suffered that night. Racism is completely unacceptable and we need tough sanctions to help combat it."
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
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