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Oct, 18, 2012

Serbian FA demands player statements

The Serbian FA (FSS) has ordered all players and staff involved in Tuesday's Under-21 game against England to make statements after the match ended in scuffles on the pitch and accusations were made of racist abuse from the stands.

• Serbian FA denies racism claim
• FA reports racism
• Brewin: UEFA must get tough

Fights involving Serbian supporters, players and officials broke out after the final whistle, and England's Danny Rose was sent off for reacting angrily to racist abuse from the crowd.

The FSS, which on Wednesday denied there had been any racism towards the England team and accused Rose of behaving in an "inappropriate, unsportsmanlike and vulgar manner" towards their fans, said its disciplinary committee had made the request at an "extraordinary session" on Thursday.

UEFA has brought charges against both the FSS and the English Football Association for the improper conduct of their players, and against the Serbs for "alleged racist chanting" by fans. Its control and disciplinary body will consider both cases when it meets on November 22.

In the same statement in which it denied there had been any racism, the FSS said it would launch an investigation of its own into the on-pitch fighting.

That process has now begun, and the organisation's official website said: "In Belgrade today, there was an extraordinary session of the disciplinary committee of the Football Association of Serbia.

"It was decided to officially request statements from all the players and members of the professional staff of the under-21 Serbia national team who took part in the second leg of the play-off on October 16 in Krusevac.

"The deadline for submission of these statements is three days. The disciplinary committee will decide which individuals will be subject to disciplinary proceedings."

Echoing the line taken by his country's FA, Serbia midfielder Nikola Ninkovic said the aggression shown towards Rose on the pitch at the end of the match - won by England to put them in next summer's finals - had come about because the defender made "inappropriate gestures" towards home fans.

Rose told Sky Sports News he had suffered sustained racist abuse from the stands throughout the 90 minutes, but Ninkovic told the Novosti newspaper: "The guy, three or four times, made inappropriate gestures towards our fans.

"I was angered by his reaction, so I rushed over to explain to him that he should not do that. I did not mean to hit him or insult him. I walked over to him and pushed him.

"A lot of his behaviour annoyed me, but I know I was wrong and I know I will get a fine. I just hope it will not be too big. He received a red card and I got a yellow. That is probably an indication that his share of the story was significant.''

The Serbian FA president, Tomislav Karadzic, said sorry for his players' part in the scenes, and added: "I take this opportunity to once again apologise to all fans of football and the English FA's delegation.

"I have sent an apology on behalf of our association as we hosted the match - not that I think it was only our fault."

He also dismissed claims that Serbia was a country with a significant racism problem, saying its 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," he said. "We have great confidence in the authorities and UEFA to implement the correct procedures.''

On Wednesday, the English FA complained to UEFA about racism at Tuesday's game and indicated that it could boycott future games in Serbia if it feels the governing body fails to impose a suitable punishment.

General secretary Alex Horne said: "We were shocked and appalled by the disgraceful events that occurred in Serbia.

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

"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. We must question the validity of sending a team to Serbia in the future.''

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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