FARE welcome UEFA appeal

UEFA's decision to challenge the sanctions imposed for racist behaviour by Serbian supporters during a European Under-21 Championship play-off against England has been welcomed by a leading anti-discrimination network.

Football News: Serbia vs England.

Football's European governing body confirmed on Wednesday it would appeal against all punishments handed out by its control and disciplinary body concerning the controversial match in Krusevac on October 16, including the decision to order the Serbian Under-21 team to play one match behind closed doors and to fine the national federation 80,000 euros (around £65,000) for the improper behaviour of supporters.

The initial punishment, imposed on December 13, was widely criticised for being too lenient.

Piara Powar, the executive director of the FARE Network of anti-discrimination and inclusion groups across Europe, hailed UEFA's "honesty" and hoped Europe's national associations would follow suit in challenging punishments which on reflection did not seem harsh enough.

"UEFA's decision to appeal is very welcome. We had been lobbying for it and like a lot of other people within UEFA felt this was the right thing to do," Powar said.

"UEFA now have an opportunity to send out a message and it takes a lot of honesty and self-reflection to admit that one arm of the organisation got it wrong.

"It's a good lead for other national associations to follow if they issue a sanction that on reflection doesn't get the right message across, such as the (English) FA in a certain case earlier this year."

The Football Association declined to respond to Powar's comments but stated that in the past it has appealed against its own commissions and will continue to do so. The FA's decision to suspend John Terry for four matches and fine him £220,000 for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand was criticised as being too lenient, particularly in view of the eight-match ban handed to Liverpool forward Luis Suarez for a similar offence.

England Under-21 duo Steven Caulker and Tom Ince received two and one-match bans respectively for their involvement in the brawl which followed the Serbia play-off, which was sparked by racist abuse directed at Danny Rose. Those sanctions have also been challenged by UEFA.

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.

"As per the UEFA disciplinary regulations, the UEFA disciplinary inspector has the right to open disciplinary investigations and to lodge appeals against decisions taken by the control and disciplinary body," read a statement on UEFA's website.

"Having reviewed the motivated decisions for the sanctions imposed in this specific case, which have also been provided to all parties, the UEFA disciplinary inspector felt it necessary to immediately confirm his intention to appeal on UEFA's behalf."

While reluctant to suggest what sort of sanctions might be appropriate in this case, Powar has called for UEFA to demonstrate that racism will not be tolerated.

"We'll wait to see what the next hearing brings and what the outcome of appeal is, but we always felt that the initial punishment was an opportunity to lay down a marker that wasn't taken," he said.

"We'd like to see that rectified, although we can't say what the outcome should be.

"At the time there was widespread outrage at what happened due to the levels of racism and sheer lawlessness. What happened warranted a harder sanction."

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