By Bojana Barlovac
Serbia’s prime minister has ordered a police investigation into incidents during and after England-Serbia football match, but said it was early to say whether racism allegations were true.
Ivica Dacic, Serbia’s Prime Minister and Interior Minister, has ordered a police investigation into the racism allegations surrounding the Serbia-England under-21 football match on Tuesday.
Dacic, who is also Serbia’s police chief, said the claims of racism by Serbian supporters directed at England’s black players could not be verified before the investigation was complete.
Dacic’s reaction came after Uefa opened disciplinary proceedings against both the Football Association of Serbia, FSS, and England’s Football Association, FA, following incidents during and after England’s 1-0 win over Serbia in the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 match in Krusevac on Tuesday.
During the 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 by Serbian fans.
Strong reactions have come from Britain, where Prime Minister David Cameron has said he was “appalled” by the behaviour of Serbian fans, and where calls have grown for Serbia to face tough penalties.
Denis MacShane, former Minister for Europe in the UK, wrote in his blog for the UK New Statesman magazine that “despite all the wars, bloodshed, victims, and hate, it seems it will take a little longer before Serbia’s ruling elites, whether in football or politics, come to terms with modernity.”
MacShane linked the incidents in Krusevac to recent statements by the former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, that he should have been rewarded instead of indicted for his actions during the 1992-5 Bosnian war.
MacShane noted that the current Serbian government is led by Ivica Dacic, former right hand man of Serbia’s late strongman Slobodan Milosevic.
The England’s Football Association has upped the stakes by questioning whether it will send teams to Serbia again.
Alex Horne, the FA’s secretary general said: “No football team should be asked to play in any environment where racial abuse, violence and threatening behaviour is prevalent.”
In 2007, the Serbian Football Federation was fined £16,000 at the Under-21 European Championship in Netherlands after their supporters racially abused England’s Nedum Onouha.
Meanwhile, Serbia has given a confused response to British charges of racism, with the sports minister promising an investigation and the local football assocation flatly denying the charges.
Savo Milosevic, former Aston Villa striker and technical director of the Serbian Football Association, has called on his country to follow England’s example in expelling racism from football.
“To solve the problem of racism in football, I would do what England did with hooligans years ago,” Milosevic said adding that all relevant institutions should take part in this.