Uefa president Michel Platini under growing pressure to appeal against 'insulting' punishment given to Serbia for racism
Platini studies disciplinary judgement as criticism mounts over response to racism row
Saturday 15 December 2012
Uefa president Michel Platini is under growing pressure to demand an increase in the severity of sanction levied against Serbia by the European governing body's own disciplinary committee as criticism mounts over what is widely seen as an inadequate penalty for the racist chanting and violence surrounding an under-21 fixture against England two months ago.
Before mounting any appeal against Thursday's decision, Platini, currently in Japan, will study the written judgement of what Show Racism the Red Card labelled an "insult". The £65,000 fine handed to the Serbian FA by the independent panel is four times the amount specified in Uefa's articles but playing one match behind closed doors is at the minimum end of the available scale.
A number of Premier League managers as well as the PFA and Fifpro, the body that represents players world-wide, added their voices to those already condemning the level of punishment. Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the PFA, is writing to Platini calling for "stronger action" while Theo van Seggelen, who leads Fifpro, said his members "can no longer accept the abuses in Eastern Europe. The image of pro football is at stake."
Andre Villas-Boas, whose defender Steven Caulker was one of two England players given bans for their alleged part in the post-match melee following their 1-0 win in Serbia in October, believes it is the second time this season Uefa has failed to deliver an appropriate punishment for a racist incident. Lazio were fined around £30,000 for their fans' racist chanting during a Europa League match at White Hart Lane.
Villas-Boas said: "I keep saying the same - actions are decisive. I am not sure if Uefa once again sets a good example. We believe that twice this season on Uefa fixtures, first on the under-21 game and another one on the Lazio game. So we are waiting for a lbit more."
Villas-Boas and Tottenham will support any FA appeal against Caulker's two-game ban. "The personal frustration of the player is something that you have to take into account and you have to respect," said Villas-Boas. "It's difficult to take. He is obviously very disappointed. It is difficult to take after I heard from my players - from Danny [Rose], from Steven, from Adam Smith - from the situation they went through to see that the outcome is this one."
Rose, who was sent off after the full-time whistle, said he and other England players had been the subject of racial abuse during and after the match in Krusevac.
Ged Grebby, chief executive of Show Racism the Red Card, said: "Uefa have shown yet again that they do not take racism seriously, despite claiming to take a 'zero tolerance' approach to racism, the sanctions faced by the Serbian Football Association are an insult to the England players who were subjected to violence and racist abuse throughout the game. We are calling for a one-year ban for the Serbian team from all competitions. Uefa needs to send a message that racism will not be tolerated."
The PFA similarly see it as an opportunity missed to issue a deterrent. "This is a totally inadequate fine which sends a very poor message out to the football world," said Taylor. "I intend to write to Michel Platini expressing our dissatisfaction and calling for stronger action. In addition, we will strongly support the FA in their appeal against the decision to charge Steven Caulker and Thomas Ince."
In a year dogged by high-profile racist incidents domestically, there was also criticism of the FA by Lord Ouseley yesterday. The chair of Kick It Out accused the FA of undermining the efforts of his organisation. When asked if there was a danger of football squandering the progress made on race in recent years, he said: "It clearly is if you have your position undermined by people who are in powerful positions and I am talking about the FA."
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