• European Football

UEFA could appeal over Serbia punishments

ESPN staff
December 14, 2012
Serbian FA fined by UEFA

UEFA president Michel Platini could appeal to increase the sanctions imposed on the Serbian FA for racist abuse from the stands and violence on the pitch at the Under-21 game against England in October.

Platini is believed to feel the punishments - an €80,000 fine and one Under-21 match to be played behind closed doors - are not strong enough. They have been widely condemned as much too lenient by anti-racism campaigners, and UEFA's prosecuting inspector had proposed more "drastic" measures.

The sanctions were imposed by UEFA's independent control and disciplinary panel - but the rules mean UEFA can itself appeal against a decision by the panel. Sources at European football's governing body said Platini would make a decision once he had read the full file on the matter after returning from the Club World Cup in Japan next week.

In the wake of England's 1-0 play-off win at the Mladost Stadium, in Krusevac, FA general secretary Alex Horne said England would consider refusing to play in Serbia as a result of the "racial abuse, violence and threatening behaviour" they had encountered. ESPN was informed that the FA's report to UEFA was highly damning.

In a statement issued after UEFA had announced the punishments, Horne said he was frustrated they had not been stronger. "We are disappointed with the sanctions levied by UEFA with regard to the racist behaviour displayed towards England's players," Horne said.

"Let's be clear - racism is unacceptable in any form and should play no part in football. The scenes were deplorable, and we do not believe the sanction sends a strong enough message."

Lord Herman Ouseley, the chairman of anti-racism group Kick It Out, told ESPN he felt UEFA's ruling was "pretty pathetic" and said the Serbia Under-21 team should not have been allowed to take part in European competition for at least five years.

"This is not designed to stop anything. This is not a deterrent," he said. "It's nothing more than a slap on the wrist. That's UEFA for you - but then again, who out there is taking these racism issues seriously?"

Rio Ferinand tweeted: "UEFA not serious at all on racism. Fines do not work at all. They have zero impact on federations/clubs/fans/players. UEFA need to talk to this generation... they don't seem to be up to date on this issue. Harsh punishments needed as a deterrent #simple."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.