Euro U21: Paper Round: Mass indignation for 'racist Serbia'

The papers have been merciless in their condemnation of Serbia as the row over the U21 game goes on.

Euro U21: Paper Round: Mass indignation for 'racist Serbia'

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The Sun front page 17/10/2012

UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against both the FA and their Serbian counterparts following the chaotic scenes which marred the end of England's Under-21 match in Krusevac.

The Sun decided to give over their front page to the news and their headline: "Load of Balkans" – let's you know exactly what they think.

The tabloids in particular are being unceremoniously brutal on the Serbs after there seemed to be clear evidence of racist chanting from the stands during the match.

The adjective 'racist' is used to describe the country as a whole in The Sun, The Daily Star and The Daily Mirror.

This word is thrown around liberally and without any quotation marks across their reporting of the events in Krusevac.

There is an interesting piece in The Times however which says, while the Serbian FA might have denied allegations of racist chanting, the rest of the country was far from impressed with the abuse meted out to England's black players.

The paper quotes an editorial from popular Serbian tabloid 'Blic' which said: "It is no secret that they (foreign nationals) think that Serbia continues in the Stone Age and that we are thugs, hooligans.

"It is no secret that the world draws the wrong stereotype of Serbia. But how could it not when the world receives the wrong image from us? There was no justification for the racist cries that came from the stands.”

The Times are keen though to point out that this editorial was: "A rare rebuke for racists in Serbia where 'abuse of minorities is the norm'" – an indeed put that as the headline on the piece written by David Charter – who is their European correspondent as opposed to a sports journalist.

The Mirror makes the claim that 'Serbs were on attack before the game' – saying: "A series of scuffles took place in the tunnel before kick-off in Krusevac.

"Turkish referee Huseyin Gocek was asked to intervene, but nothing was done.

"During the game, missiles were launched at England players at throw-ins and corners and constant monkey chants punctuated the action."

The Daily Mail runs a piece written by QPR defender Nedum Onuoha who played for England U21s in Serbia in 2007 under the title: "The frightening thing is that many Serbians see this as normal behaviour" – although Onuoha himself is more balanced and reasoned than the sensationalist headline might suggest.

He says: "It’s a tough situation because people across the world have a different set of standards and beliefs. So dishing out bans or fines will not necessarily make the difference. They will still have the same set of standards and beliefs.

"I remember speaking to Mario Balotelli about some racial abuse he had received. Mario explained that the person that was giving it to him did not even view it as abuse - he thought it was normal behaviour. That is frightening.

"But at the same time, we have to be careful not to tar all Serbian people with the same brush. Aleksandar Kolarov, for example, is one of the fairest and nicest people I’ve met. But maybe there is something in their society that makes this behaviour acceptable."

The most eloquent damnation about the disgraceful scenes that went on in Serbia though comes from Paul Hayward in the Daily Telegraph who writes an "Open Letter To UEFA president Michel Platini" that really should be read in full by anyone looking to dismiss the abuse in Serbia as no big deal.

Hayward writes: "Danny Rose, a young Englishman who summoned the courage to stand up to a racist mob, was subjected to a sustained attempt to strip him of his humanity, before, during and after the game. The aim of parts of the Serbian crowd was to relegate him to the animal kingdom, to destroy his dignity and render him incapable of playing the game whose values you are entrusted to uphold.

"Or consider the case of Bolton’s Marvin Sordell, another black England Under-21. At Millwall on October 6, Sordell reported racial abuse by some home fans. His reward was to be depicted on Facebook with a gun pointed at his head and blood splattered across his shirt. In Krusevac, Sordell was among black England players who were abused and attacked under your jurisdiction, beneath Uefa’s banner of “respect”.

"A good short exercise would be to close your eyes and imagine how Sordell feels today. Racially abused in London on club duty, he claims, and racially abused on national service in Serbia, which must have been terrifying, given the general lawlessness around the ground. He could have no faith in Serbian officials or the police to protect him. Like Rose, and the whole England party, he was abandoned. He was betrayed."

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