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Tony Cottee column: Governing bodies must get tough to stop such disturbing scenes

PUBLISHED: 09:00 19 October 2012

Serbian players (in red) clash with England players after their 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-off, second leg match. Pic: AP Photo/Miroslav Todorovic

Serbian players (in red) clash with England players after their 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-off, second leg match. Pic: AP Photo/Miroslav Todorovic

“There is no room for racism in football. Serbia’s punishment must be extreme.”

There’s one or two people that need their backsides whacked this week after the Poland v England farce, because to have a state-of-the-art stadium with a roof and have the game called off is inexcusable.

The only time I ever encountered confusion like that was playing in an FA Cup tie at QPR in 1987.

There was over-crowding in the West Ham end and all the fans ended up on the pitch. There were police horses brought out and absolute mayhem trying to sort things out.

I can remember myself, Mark Ward and Billy Bonds finding an office inside Loftus Road with a TV and we sat there watching the racing at Sandown Park until things calmed down outside.

UEFA and FIFA have their work cut out this week because the scenes in Serbia were also very disturbing.

I grew up at a time when you would go to football and there would be all kinds of vile abuse being hurled at black players from the stands and bananas thrown on the pitch.

As a kid I couldn’t really work out what was going on and why.

I’m so pleased we have managed to put our own house in order since those days.

But for that to happen elsewhere it appears the governing bodies will have to come down hard.

If something happened in England with chanting or missiles being thrown they would throw the book at us – and quite rightly.

I’m not sure that’s always the same when things occur though in other, smaller countries.

There is no room for racism in football. It is totally unacceptable.

There is no point in fining countries or individuals, because they can all afford to pay fines these days and unfortunately it’s not a punishment that hurts them.

So you either have to say they will play behind-closed-doors or you expel them completely from the next tournament.

If you take that extreme measure people in Serbia will say ‘why?’ but it might just get them to look at the problems.

It’s not all Serbians, like with everything it’s a minority that spoils it for the majority. But an extreme punishment might have the right effect.


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