Welsh in protest over racist abuse

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The Independent Football

The Welsh FA has made a formal complaint about racial abuse suffered by their players in the Under-21 and European Championship qualifiers in Serbia this week.

David Collins, the secretary general of the FAW, lodged a protest with both Uefa delegates present in the Red Star stadium, Belgrade, where Danny Gabbidon, his Cardiff City team-mate, Robert Earnshaw, and Wolves striker Nathan Blake were subjected to abuse from the stands during the 1-0 defeat by Serbia and Montenegro on Wednesday.

On Tuesday night, during the Under-21 international in Novi Sad, the Gillingham goalkeeper Jason Brown had been subjected to similar abuse, of a kind he said he had not experienced in British football.

Earnshaw and Gabbidon, the two outstanding players for Wales on a night when they suffered their first defeat in Group Nine, reacted differently to the chanting.

Earnshaw, who saw a shot cleared off the line which might have given Wales the equaliser that would have guaranteed their place in the Euro 2004 play-offs, said: "It was absolutely disgusting, that's the only way you can describe it. I could hear the monkey noises when I came on and it is very, very difficult to keep focused on football when you have to deal with that going on. Uefa have to act."

But Gabbidon said he had not been fazed by the chanting, calling it "water off a duck's back" and adding: "I was so busy concentrating on the game I didn't notice it much. I am able to close my ears to such things. It's childish and not something you like to hear. Once you are playing, you are not bothered about the crowd, only what your team-mates are saying. But if that's the way it is out in places like that, that's the way it is."