Any football fan who has followed the game in recent times will admit that the scenes after the European Championship play-off Under-21 match between Serbia and England were appalling. Danny Rose was subjected to racial abuse throughout the match and things spilled over after the final whistle with Serbian players and staff attacking him, as well as a number of other England individuals. It was a disgrace.
England have two options here until UEFA do something about the affair or until they don’t do something about the affair. It is quite clear that Rose was not the only coloured England player who was subjected to monkey chants and racist abuse from the Serbian fans. The obvious thing which England are bound to do is refuse to play in Serbia until the matter is sorted, across all teams not just the Under-21s.
This is something England may consider if UEFA do not bother implementing any serious penalty which they should do considering their ‘zero tolerance’ towards racism in football. A small fine is likely and it’s more unlikely that Serbia will be banned from playing in any capacity.
“Uefa has opened disciplinary proceedings against both the Football Association of Serbia (FSS) and England's Football Association (FA) following a number of incidents during and after England's 1-0 win over Serbia - regarding alleged racist chanting, Uefa will instigate proceedings against the FSS over the misconduct of their supporters during and at the end of the match. Proceedings will also be instigated against the FSS for the improper conduct of the Serbia players at the end of the match,” read the official UEFA statement.
Another option England may consider if there is no action brought against the Serbian players or the Serbian FA is a boycott of all UEFA competitions. This is something that FIFA could step in and prevent but it’s a realistic possibility considering that this is such an integral topic to the basics of football and society. This would mean England’s Under-21 side would miss out on the chance to play in Europe and in the World Cup, but it would be a clear and definitive message which would echo out around the world.
An even more likely scenario is that certain individuals in the England setup may refuse to play, not just in Serbia, but in most other Eastern European locations for as long as they play football. The most shocking thing to come from the scenes after the match was the way that the Serbian players reacted to Rose after the final whistle. Here was a player reacting to being provoked in the most repulsive way for 90 minutes and he was faced with Serbian players effectively trying to knock him out after the final whistle.
UEFA need to set an example because there are going to be complications if they dish out a token fine which has been seen in the past. This sort of thing is not going to stop in football until a country or a team is made an example of. I don’t think anyone would blame England for taking matters into their own hands should UEFA just powder puff over the whole affair.
image: © Ethan.K