The Football Association and the Ferdinand brothers led a wave of angry reaction last night to Uefa’s announcement of Serbia being fined just e80,000 (£65,000) and ordered to play a match behind closed doors following racist chanting and violence towards England’s under-21 players.
FA general secretary Alex Horne said the sanctions did not send a “strong enough message” about racism. He added that the governing body will appeal against two-match and one-match bans for their players Steven Caulker and Tom Ince.
Rio and Anton Ferdinand also criticised the sanctions on Twitter contrasting it with a e100,000 and one-match ban handed to former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner for displaying a betting firm’s logo on his underpants during Euro 2012.
Uefa’s control and disciplinary body also banned four Serbian players and two coaches for varying terms after ugly scenes marred the end of the European Championship play-off in Krusevac in October.
Horne said: “We are disappointed with the sanctions. 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.”
Anton Ferdinand tweeted: “Wow UEFA ain’t serious with their punishment... So showin a sponsor is worst than racism and fighting!”
His brother Rio added: “Uefa are not serious at all on racism. Fines do not work at all. They have zero impact on federations/clubs/fans/players £fact. Uefa need to talk to this generation.....they don’t seem to be up to date on this issue?? Harsh punishments needed as a deterrent £simple.”
Sports minister Hugh Robertson had written to Uefa president Michel Platini demanding tough action and he, too, expressed disappointment. He said: “Racism is completely unacceptable and we need tough sanctions to help combat it.”
The FA had reported the racist abuse to Uefa plus a number of other incidents. Full-back Danny Rose, who was dismissed after the final whistle for kicking the ball away in anger, complained he had been subjected to monkey chants throughout the match and as he left the pitch.
Serbian FA secretary general Zoran Lakovic appeared to suggest that the Uefa official prosecuting the charges had also demanded tougher action.
Lakovic said in a statement: “If we take into account what the drastic proposed penalty by the disciplinary inspector Jean-Samuel Leube we have not been hit so hard. I believe that this is a final warning to all of us who work in Serbian football, including coaches and players and fans, because for even the smallest mistake Uefa can now impose the most rigorous punishment.”
Lord Herman Ouseley, chairman of Kick It Out, condemned the sanction as “a paltry slap on the wrist”.
Piara Powar, executive director of European anti-discrimination body FARE, said Uefa had failed to display the necessary leadership. He said: “The original offences warranted a more severe collective punishment than a ban on spectators for one match. This is a moment in which leadership to challenge discrimination is needed from all authorities. This sanction falls short of that objective.
In relation to Ince and Caulker’s bans, the FA said they were surprised at the action and that the players had merely protected themselves. Horne added: “It is the FA’s vehement belief that its players and staff acted correctly in the face of provocation, including racist abuse and missiles being thrown. We are therefore surprised to see that two of our players have been given suspensions. We shall await UEFA’s reasoning but it is our intention, at this stage, to support our players and appeal these decisions.”
England under-21 head coach Stuart Pearce added: “I am concerned to see our players suspended by UEFA and we will continue to support them. I maintain that our players played no part in the aggression. Our players and staff were forced to protect themselves.”
UEFA’S RACISM FINES
June 2007 - Serbian federation fined £16,500. England Under-21 players were subject to racist abuse during their victory over Serbia at the European Championships in Nijmegen. A stadium official had to intervene to tell supporters to stop, saying: “We will not tolerate your racist chants. Please stop or leave the stadium.”
June 2008 - Croatian federation fined £10,000. Croatia fans were found guilty of racist behaviour during their Euro 2008 quarter-final tie with Turkey.
Sep 2011 - Bulgarian FA fined £34,000
Bulgaria coach Lothar Matthaus was forced to apologise for the fans who aimed monkey chants at Ashley Young, Ashley Cole and Theo Walcott during England’s Euro 2012 qualifier in Sofia. Matthaus said: “It’s pitiful for things like that to happen. And, as a result of that, I’d like to apologise on behalf of the Bulgarian Football Federation.”
April 2012 - Porto fined £16,700.
The Portuguese club were punished after their fans directed monkey chants at Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli during a Europa League match in February.
June 2012 - Russian federation fined £24,000 and Spanish federation fined £16,000. Russia were punished after racist chants were directed at the Czech Republic’s Theodor Gebre Selassie during their Euro 2012 match in Wroclaw. The Spanish were fined after their fans abused Balotelli, also during a group match in the tournament.
October 2012 - Lazio fined £32,500
Lazio fans directed monkey chants at Tottenham players Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend during a Europe League match at White Hart Lane.
AND HOW THEY COMPARE . . .
June 2009 - Chelsea fined £85,000 for failure to control their players and fans. The Blues were fined following their controversial and highly-charged Champions League semi-final defeat to Barcelona at Stamford Bridge. Didier Drogba launched a foul-mouthed tirade at referee Tom Henning Ovrebo after the official turned down several penalty appeals, while fans threw missiles onto the pitch.
April 2011 - Rangers fined £35,652 for sectarian chanting. Rangers were fined and their fans were banned from one European away game after being found guilty of sectarian chanting during a Europa League match at PSV Eindhoven.
June 2012 - Nicklas Bendtner fined £80,000 for pants stunt. Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner was banned for one match after he lowered his shorts to reveal the logo of a betting company on his underpants after scoring in the Euro 2012 clash with Portugal. Bendtner, 24, was found guilty of improper conduct.