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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jun 18, 2007

Calls growing for UEFA action

UEFA have come under increasing pressure to take action after Serbia Under-21 players were accused of racist abuse in the European Championship clash against England. The Football Association have filed a complaint with UEFA after Nedum Onuoha was abused by fans, while oter England players were targeted by their opponents in the tunnel after the 2-0 win over Serbia in Nijmegen yesterday. UEFA face criticism from anti-racism campaigners for not having the power to throw Serbia out of the competition and also for not addressing the issue until July 12 at the meeting of the control and disciplinary body. A spokesman for the Kick It Out campaign said: 'We would urge UEFA to take the harshest punishment possible to them. 'Most people would probably cal for Serbia to be removed but we understand that cannot happen, which itself is frustrating.' UEFA have been criticised for not taking appropriate action in the past, although Blackburn striker Benni McCarthy praised them for banning Wisla Krakow's Serbian defender Nikola Mijailovic for five matches earlier in the season. 'The reason we are dealing with this after the tournament is because we need time to get an investigation going,' said UEFA director of communications William Gaillard. 'We are speaking to the Serbia FA and their people in Holland and we are trying to identify the culprits involved. 'We have to find these people but of course the Serbian FA stand to be punished severely as well. They are directly responsible for the behaviour of their supporters. Players can also be banned.' Despite the delay in addressing the ugly scenes, England players have been urged to give evidence to UEFA to ensure the toughest possible punishment. 'Players shouldn't forget that they have a responsibility to report any problems that they can,' the Kick It Out spokesman said. 'Sometimes players do not understand how important their actions are.' Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce added: 'I live my life in an honest and genuine way and if my players are asked questions in respect of things that happen then I don't see why they shouldn't give a genuine and honest answer.' Sports Minister Richard Caborn joined the calls for action. He said: 'I urge UEFA to investigate the matter immediately. I shall also be writing to my Serbian counterpart to express my disgust at what happened.' Although the chanting at Onuoha stopped after an impromptu announcement from UEFA, trouble on the pitch flared up when Matt Derbyshire scored while a Serbia player was injured. Serbia players were furious and the trouble continued in the tunnel where it is understood Justin Hoyte was racially abused by an opponent. England players will also be investigated by UEFA for their role in the brawl. The FA confirmed they have complained about the abuse aimed at Onuoha, and a spokesman said: 'A complaint has also been submitted over the further racist abuse directed at England players by at least one member of the Serbian team in the tunnel after the match.' The 2-0 win secured England's place in the semi-finals against holders and hosts Holland, while Serbia play in the other last-four clash.

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