England Under-21 clash with Serbia last night descended into a painful reminder of the racism that still exists in football today.
Sunderland’s Danny Rose received sustained racial abuse throughout the match. Racist and monkey chants were heard during the game which climaxed with missiles being thrown onto the pitch and the break out of a brawl. Rose was sent off for kicking a ball into the crowd and has spoken out strongly to get Serbia banned from UEFA.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case - in a 2007 Under-21 match against Serbia, City defender Nedum Onuoha was also racially abused. Last night’s sickening scenes follow the progress many thought had been made at Euro 2012, sparking a revival in concerns about racism in football in general, but specifically in Eastern Europe.
There have been outcries of disgust from around the footballing and political world; David Cameron has described the event as “ugly”, saying he was “appalled”, and Phil Neville urged players to leave the pitch in future instances, calling the events as “disgraceful”.
There have been calls for UEFA to be able to dish out stronger punishments. Director of anti-racist campaign group Kick It Out, Roisin Wood, said banning Serbia must be an option, while Lord Ouseley, also of Kick It Out, congratulated the FA on their quick response in compiling a report to show to UEFA on Wednesday.
All this comes against the backdrop of Kick It Out’s annual awareness drive, which starts tomorrow and runs till the end of October. If you believe, like Left Foot Forward, that racism has no place in football and we need to stamp it out, you may be interested in some of Kick It Out’s upcoming events.
Tomorrow, there is an event titled “The Rise of Social Media in Football” at UCL’s Lankaster Lecture Theatre, with guests including ex-QPR and West Ham midfielder Andy Impey. A busy timetable then concludes on November with 5th with “Raise Your Game” in Exeter, where there will be sessions on mentoring, coaching and first aid. There will also be more “Raise Your Game” events at Chelsea’s training ground and Manchester Football Association. To find out more click here.
Last night’s events were disgusting, shocking and unacceptable. UEFA need to be firm in their response – a small fine simply will not do, it’s time for real action, it’s time to ban the racists and suspend them from international competition so we can move forward in the fight to kick racism out of football.