By Danilo Lucic
Serbia’s Football Association said there was no racism before and after the Serbia-England football match in Krusevac on Tuesday – while sports minister promises an investigation.
Serbia has given a confused response to British charges of racism at an England-Serbia football match in Krusevac with the sports minister promising an investigation and the local football assocation flatly denying the charges.
Alisa Maric, Serbia’s Minister for Sport and Youth, condemned the fans’ behaviour at Krusevac, where black players were whistled at, subjected to monkey chants and had objects hurled at them.
“I strongly oppose any form of violence and discrimination, especially at sporting events,” Maric said in a statement.
She added that she expected an adequate reaction from all relevant bodies and would call a session of the National Council for the Fight Against Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events.
The Serbian Football Association, FSS, meanwhile issued a statement denying any racist outbursts at the match on Tuesday.
“The Serbian Football Association rejects and denies any form of racism on the stadium in Krusevac, before and during the match,” the statement reads.
“Linking the incident – a fight between members of the two teams – with racism has absolutely no basis and [we] consider it entirely malicious,” the statement added.
The Association apologized only for the unsportsmanlike behavior of some members of Serbian team, promising to punish all responsible for the incident.
During the football match, England defender Danny Rose was sent off for kicking the ball away in response to what he said was monkey chanting and physical provocation from Serbian fans.
Strong reactions have come from Britain, where Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “appalled” by the behaviour of Serbian fans, and where calls have grown for Serbia to face tough penalties.
Serbian sociologist Dragan Kokovic said the country’s international reputation would suffer if the country failed to address the complaints adequately.
“The Serbian Football Association should apologize for this incident, both for the reputation of the Serbian national team and because of possible repercussions for the team,” Kokovic told Balkan Insight.
However, Serbian national team coach Aleksandar Jankovic told the UK media that there was no need for apology as it takes two for a fight; England should be celebrating that it qualificated for Euro 2013, he added.