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UEFA urged to sanction Serbia

LONDON -- The British government has written to UEFA president Michel Platini demanding "tough sanctions" against Serbia following the racial abuse of England players during an under-21 match.

Abuse was hurled at the England players in Krusevac, Serbia, on Tuesday, with monkey chants heard in the stadium. England won the game 1-0.

Serbia coach Aleksandar Jankovic is reported to have denied the abuse and the subsequent need to apologize.

"Apologize for what? It takes two for a brawl," Jankovic is reported to have told the Serbian website B92. "We will analyze tomorrow what exactly happened but let's talk about football now. We may be disappointed with the outcome, but we definitely have nothing to be ashamed of."

Savo Milosevic, the former Aston Villa striker who is now with Serbian FA, made a personal apology to England boss Stuart Pearce last night after the under-21 game, the BBC reported Wednesday.

"I think there were one or two racist incidents that came on from the crowd and they have been reported to UEFA, I believe, by ourselves," Pearce said post-match. "It is in their hands now, they will have to deal with that."

British Sports Minister Hugh Robertson says "the scenes at the end of the game last night were disgraceful. I have written to UEFA president Michel Platini, in support of The FA, urging them to investigate immediately."

In a statement Robertson added that "racism in any form is unacceptable and must be stamped out. We would expect tough sanctions from UEFA on anyone found guilty of racist abuse."

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand made his pledge against racism in soccer via Twitter Wednesday: "The only way to start stopping racism and violence in stadiums is by giving BIG bans for countries/players...fines mean nothing...the bans to date have been tepid at best....token gestures...a marker has not been put down so the there is no real deterrent."

The English Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) joined the England Football Association (FA) in a call for UEFA sanctions.

"These were seemingly aimed at a number of England black players by the crowd," the statement reads. "The recent financial punishments handed down to both clubs and national football associations do not send a strong enough message that the football authorities are taking racism seriously. FIFA and UEFA need to get tough and deduct points or disqualify teams from competitions."


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