Serb Shame! But will UEFA act ?
In one of the most deplorable nights of international football English footballers including Danny Rose were subject to sustained racial and at times physical abuse. To add insult to injury the only person punished on the night was Danny Rose, who was sent off for kicking the ball away, after he reacted to the deluge of taunts.
After the match Rose stated that he endured overt racial abuse including monkey chants throughout the match. Coins and stones were also pelted at the players. Many fans were clearly given the Nazi salute as Black players neared the touch line.
Although many in the football world have condemned the Serbian fans, Serbian football authorities are in deep denial:
The Serbian people have never been, nor will be, racist, The crowd's reaction to the defeat should not be confused with one of the greatest evils of the modern era.
After football’s night of shame there are a number of question not just for the nation States involved but also for football’s governing bodies: The FA, UEFA and FIFA.
Some questions may include:
- After sustained racial abuse why didn’t under 21 manager Stuart Pearce order his players to come off?
- Where was his duty of care?
- How much abuse is acceptable?
Both UEFA and FIFA have lamentable records in dealing with racism . UEFA, for example, have on numerous occasions imposed greater punishment on teams for arriving a few minutes late on the pitch or a player advertising a brand on his underpants, than for local or national fans racially abusing players. FIFA Chief Sett Blatter recently said that if players are racially abused they should shake hands afterwards and that should be the end of it. How then will the authorities react this time?
Will EUFA ban Serbia national team with immediate effect, and for a lengthy period?
Too many nation states such as Serbia, Hungary and Lithuania have a level of racism that is barbaric and hateful. Having just returned from Hungary I have witnessed first hand that many in Hungary other countries view racial hatred towards Black people and Roma as a badge of honour Sadly, the EU has limited powers to get them to even acknowledge their racism much less effectively tackle it. However, as a football mad nation, banning Serbia would convulse its people to either remain isolated in the world of football or to conform to a standard that does not accept any form of racial hatred and abuse.
Therefore, as bad as the midweek football shame was, the games authorities not only have a chance to reaffirm the moral values but also they could force a nation such as Serbia to begin the painful process of dealing with its intrinsic racial baggage.