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Oct 17, 2012

Serbian FA denies racism at U-21 game

The Serbian FA has denied that there was any racism towards the England Under-21 team on Tuesday and accused Danny Rose of behaving in an "inappropriate, unsportsmanlike and vulgar manner" towards their fans.

• Brewin: UEFA must get tough

Its denial came hours after UK sports minister Hugh Robertson wrote to UEFA president Michel Platini, urging European football's governing body to take "tough sanctions" following what he described as disgraceful scenes of racism in Krusevac.

The English Football Association has reported "a number of incidents of racism" to UEFA after England's 1-0 Euro Under-21 Championship qualifying win was marred by ugly scenes, and has said it "must question the validity of sending a team to Serbia in the future".

Scuffles involving Serbian supporters, players and other officials broke out after the final whistle, while Rose was sent off for reacting angrily to racial abuse.

Rose, who along with PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor has also urged UEFA to take action against Serbia, was pushed in the back as he left the field and gestured to indicate that monkey chants had been aimed at him.

But on its website, the Serbian authority said it "absolutely refuses (sic) and denies that there were any occurrences of racism before and during the match at the stadium in Krusevac".

A statement said: "Making a connection between the seen incident - a fight between members of the two teams - and racism has absolutely no grounds, and we consider it to be a total malevolence.

"Unfortunately, after the fourth minute of the additional time and the victory goal scored by the guest team, unpleasant scenes were seen on the pitch.

"And while most of the English team players celebrated the score, their player number three, Danny Rose, behaved in inappropriate, unsportsmanlike and vulgar manner towards the supporters in the stands at the stadium in Krusevac, and for that he was shown a red card."

The organisation said it believed preliminary reports from the match officials backed its version of events, adding: "None of them mentioned a racist situation, and we expect that the human and sports culture of our football friends from England will win over the spread of misinformation."

But in a strongly-worded statement, the English FA's general secretary, Alex Horne, said his organisation had been "shocked and appalled by the disgraceful events that occurred in Serbia".

Horne's statement said: "Our players and staff were subjected to racial abuse, violence as well as missiles being thrown at them throughout the match. What occurred is inexcusable and not acceptable.

"We call on UEFA to take the strongest possible action against the Serbian FA, their supporters and anyone found guilty of being involved in the numerous instances of violence and abuse.

"It is also clear that we must defend Danny Rose, who was sent off due to the frustration of being a target of racial abuse."

He said that, at half-time, FA officials had made their UEFA counterparts aware that racist abuse was being hurled by sections of the crowd.

After the Serbian FA had issued its statement, Robertson said: "UEFA now have two completely contradictory accounts of what happened.

"I hope that if they make the judgment that seems to me to be the only possible outcome, that they then follow that up with really tough sanctions."

Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman said: "He [the Prime Minister] was appalled by the scenes that we have seen in Serbia. We are determined to stamp out racism internationally and at home, and we are giving our full backing to the FA's complaint on this issue.

"Clearly it is for UEFA to investigate this issue, but we would expect tough sanctions."

Defender Rose, on loan at Sunderland from Tottenham, told Sky Sports News: "Every time I touched the ball, they were doing monkey chanting. After 60 minutes, my mind wasn't really on the game - I was just so angry it was so hard to concentrate.

"After 90 minutes of abuse, I just expressed my emotions as soon as we scored. And the next thing I know, I turn around and all the Serbia players have run over and surrounded me, all pushing me, and a brawl broke out."

He said that as he walked off following his red card "there was monkey chanting, but the monkey chanting started long before I got sent off" and concluded: "They [Serbia] have to be banned. I don't understand how else they can learn from it - they have to be banned."

Meanwhile, Taylor has condemned the incident and called for Serbia to be expelled from European football. He told ESPN: "There has to be a ban, or at least games behind closed doors, as this is not the first time and fines have had no effect."

A match between the two countries at the 2007 Under-21 European Championship in the Netherlands was marred when England defender Nedum Onuoha was racially abused.

Serbia were fined £16,000 by UEFA after that incident.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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