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Dec 13, 2012

UEFA issues Serbia-England sanctions

The Serbian Football Association has been fined £65,900 as a result of a fracas between Serbia and England players, and the behaviour of the country's supporters, during an Under-21 match in October. Suspensions have also been issued to six players.

Four Serbian players have been hit with bans ranging from two games to four for their part in their bust-up, while Tottenham defender Steven Caulker will be suspended for two games and Blackpool winger Tom Ince for one. They have the right to appeal the decision.

The Serbian Under-21 side will also have to play one match behind closed doors.

Disciplinary proceedings against the English FA were dismissed, although it received a warning after more than five England players were shown yellow cards during the October 16 contest.

The punishments relate to the events that marred the closing stages of England's 1-0 play-off win at the Mladost Stadium, Krusevac, which saw the visitors reach the 2013 European Under-21 Championship with a 2-0 victory on aggregate.

FA general secretary Alex Horne had said in the wake of the match that England would consider refusing to play in Serbia as a result of the "racial abuse, violence and threatening behaviour" in the country, and ESPN was informed that the FA's report to UEFA was highly damning.

In a statement issued after UEFA confirmed its decision, Horne expressed disappointment that the sanctions against Serbia had not been stronger.

He said: "We are disappointed with the sanctions levied by UEFA with regards to the racist behaviour displayed towards England's players. 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."

Kick It Out chairman Lord Herman Ouseley has told ESPN he believes UEFA's ruling is "pretty pathetic" and that the Serbia Under-21 team should not be allowed to take part in European competition for at least five years.

"This is not designed to stop anything. This is not a deterrent," the anti-racism campaigner 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?

"What UEFA has done will not have Serbia cringing in their boots. It won't make them say it will never happen again. Sling their Under-21 side out of competitions for five to ten years - now that will make sure they put a stop to it, end of story. Full stop.

"The world has seen it, and this is what they do. They want to play on in the competition, and this allows them to do so. Their fans will watch it on TV and then they will all forget about it. What a complete waste of everyone's time."

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor told ESPN that he deemed UEFA's fine to be "unbelievably low and no deterrent whatsoever".

UEFA was forced to investigate the unseemly events following the game, which saw players and coaches from both sides involved in ugly scenes at the final whistle following a tense game during which Danny Rose claimed he was racially abused.

Serbia fitness coach Andreja Milunovic and assistant coach Predrag Katic have been banned from all football-related activites for two years for their actions after the match - with the final six months of that suspended for probationary period - while Goran Causic suffered the longest ban of any player involved at four games.

Ognjen Mudrinski and Filip Malbasic will both serve three-match bans from national team games, with Nikola Ninkovic banned from two contests.

Mudrinski and Ninkovic had previously been banned from any national team games for a year by the Serbian FA, with Milunovic and Katic also ostracised.

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