BY CONOR MCPARLAND
Football was plunged into the dark once again, with the problem of racism rearing its head during an under-21 qualifier between Serbia and England.
England’s 1-0 victory was marred by violent clashes between players, staff and officials, which erupted from both sides on the final whistle.
Throughout the game at the Mladost Stadium in Krusevac, Serbian fans attacked England players with a barrage of missiles including coins, seats and stones. However, it is the allegations of racist abuse that have caused anger and controversy.
England player, Danny Rose was sent off for kicking the ball away, seemingly an indication of his frustration towards monkey chants from the home fans. Physical violence boiled over, and it now seems clear what caused the tension -racism. But what will the footballing authorities do about it?
Until governing bodies, such as UEFA and FIFA first of all admit there is a racist problem in the game, the fact is we will never kick racism out of football.
In November 2011, FIFA president, Sepp Blatter claimed that there “is no racism in football”; despite a prolific number of
incidents in the past number of years.
In 2007, Serbia was fined just £16,000 for the racist behaviour of their fans towards England player, Nedum Onuha. Other measly fines were issued at the recent Euro 2012 finals in Poland and Ukraine to Russia and Spain, £40,000 each for their fans behaviour compared to £80,000 handed out to England’s Nicklas Bendtner alone, for displaying the logo of a betting company on his briefs during a goal celebration.
It is clear that the authorities need to introduce a zero-tolerance policy on racism; it is not an issue that can be dealt with softly. Heavier fines and penalties are needed. Further, banning teams from international football will surely cut out any racism in the game and is an option which should be considered.
UEFA has since charged both the English and Serbian FA over the behaviour of their players and staff at the end of the game. Serbia have been accused of racist chanting from their fans, with both charges pending a hearing in November.
The football world has also produced another latest racist incident, with some Premier League players refusing to wear the ‘Kick it Out’ campaign t-shirts during their warm-up.
High profile players such as Rio Ferdinand and Jason Roberts are campaigning for further action against racism, believing that organisations are not forcing the stamping out of racism enough, with much more needing to be done.
UEFA and FIFA, it is now your time to act.