FA Condemnation Of Serbia Legitimated By John Terry Case

Srdjan Stevanovic

The English FA has complained to UEFA about the racist abuse their Under-21 players were subjected to in Serbia; only after banning John Terry are they competent to do so.

At the time of John Terry's retirement from international football, I wrote on these pages that, despite his protestations otherwise, the FA had no choice other than to charge Terry. They were, I said then, the only body competent to punish the Chelsea captain. Tuesday night -- Tottenham's Danny Rose (on loan at Sunderland) was racially abused by fans and, allegedly, opponents while representing England Under-21s in Serbia -- provided more justification for the FA's action.

Here's the FA general secretary, Alex Horne, commenting on Tuesday's events (for which England, as well asSerbia, face UEFA disciplinary procedures):

"We were shocked and appalled by the disgraceful events that occurred in Serbia. Our players and staff were subjected to racial abuse, violence as well as missiles being thrown at them throughout the match. What occurred is inexcusable and not acceptable."

You can get an idea of "what occurred" here. There certainly appears to be, as Rose claimed there was every time he touched the ball, monkey chanted from a large group of supporters. Horne, then, seems to be right and if this is proved then it is "inexcusable", it is "not acceptable". But he can only describe it as such, with credibility, as the representative of a body that has placed racism beyond the pale.

The language is crucial here - as the Terry case nauseatingly proved. Horne describes events in Serbia as "inexcusable". Prior to any defence on the part of those alleged to be guilty of racially abusing Rose, the FA's general secretary has said that there is no excuse for racial abuse. This, ultimately, is what the independent panel found against Terry (and, last season, Luis Suarez): that there was no excuse for his employment of Those Three Words and, thus, that he should be banned.

Horne can only describe racist abuse as "inexcusable" because the FA has already declared it as such.

Ashley Cole may regard the FA as a "bunch of t***s" for their position, but he presumably (I'm speculating here, @TheRealAC3 has limited himself recently to on-pitch events and reality tv) prefers their stance on racism -- "Kick it Out" -- to that taken by the Serbian FA. Here's their statement:

"Making connection between the seen incident - a fight between members of the two teams - and racism has absolutely no ground and we consider it to be a total malevolence"

The entire match, they go on to claim, had been played in a "sports atmosphere full of respecting fair play spirit". They describe Rose's behaviour (he was sent off at full-time) as "inappropriate, unsportsmanlike and vulgar".

Whatever history of t***ery Cole may regard the English FA has having, whatever history of ostrichery the rest of us may regard them as having, is eminently preferable to the denialism of their Serbian counterparts. It is only having banned Terry that the FA is competent to protect Rose, and other young black players, an ideal towards which Cole has to be sympathetic: Terry's ban (which he has accepted), ultimately, was bigger than him, Cole and Chelsea.

In the light of this incredible and offensive posturing, the FA and Minister for Sport, Hugh Robertson, have no choice but to make their complaints directly to UEFA - if the Serbian FA's stance continues, they are entitled to appeal for UEFA sanctions or a ban. Having taken a position (however belatedly) on racial abuse perpetrated by a man who, at the time, was their captain, the FA has asserted their own anti-racism credentials - it is "inexcusable". It is entitled, therefore, to demand the same from others.

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