By Chris Myson
Uefa are failing to back up their anti-racism campaigns with decisive action, according to Show Racism the Red Card (SRTRC) chief executive Ged Grebby.
England Under-21s beat Serbia 1-0 on Tuesday night to qualify for Euro 2013 but the match was overshadowed by a number of unsavoury events in Krusevac and the Football Association says it has reported "a number of incidents of racism" to Uefa.
Danny Rose, on loan at Sunderland from Tottenham, has lifted the lid on the abuse he suffered before, during and after the match, explaining how he had stones thrown at him and was subjected to monkey chants throughout the match.
Grebby, who also said he would support an abused player if they chose to walk off the pitch, believes the match should have been stopped far before a brawl broke out at the full-time whistle and says the lack of action highlights flaws in Uefa’s approach.
He told Goal.com: “I was shocked. You could see in Danny Rose’s face the hurt he felt and the power of racism and the hurt that it generates in people. It is shocking that monkey chants can go on these days in a football stadium.
“It is not a player’s job to be dealing with that. The referee should be stopping the game. There could have been tannoy announcements, there could have been warnings.
“Uefa has this United Against Racism campaign that was very high profile during the Euros. It is all well and good putting billboards round grounds and running advertising campaigns but it is meaningless if you’re not going to then back that up when it comes to something like this.
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“It also shows a lack of development in terms of officials. Look at the referee and the fourth official - there were plenty of opportunities during the game to take action – that was the failure of Uefa on Tuesday night.
“If Danny was unable to concentrate on the game after 60 minutes then that’s when action should have been taken. Game stopped, tannoy announcements made and punishments issued.”
Jason Roberts and Phil Neville have been amongst the players to condemn the abuse and both urged players to walk off the pitch if they were subjected to racism from the stands, something Grebby would support if the officials themselves were not taking action.
He added: “The main film we use in our campaigns is Samuel Eto’o attempting to leave the pitch in Barcelona and it’s an extremely powerful piece of film that we use in classrooms.
“The hurt and emotion in the face of Eto’o was very similar to Danny Rose’s last night. You should not have to put up with treatment like that in your workplace and I agree with what both Roberts and Neville have said.
“Walking off the pitch is not something you want to happen - nobody wants it to happen - but ultimately if a player did walk off I can see where they are coming from. It shouldn’t have to happen because the referee should stop the match, but it is an option for players to do that.
“I understand where Jason Roberts is coming from and fully understand the anger of black players because we have had 17 years of campaigning and this is going back to the dark ages, back to the 1980s, before campaigns like ours were set up.”
There has been history between Serbia and England before. In 2007, a match between the two countries at the European Championship in the Netherlands saw Three Lions defender Nedum Onuoha racially abused by opposition supporters, resulting in a £16,000 fine.
But Grebby, who founded the SRTRC charity in 1996, insists there has to be a significantly stronger punishment for Serbia after the shocking events of Tuesday night.
“We can’t be looking at a £16,000 fine this time,” he said. “This is the second time this has happened after Nedum Onuoha in 2007. My understanding with Uefa is we now should move onto a second level and that could mean ground closures or points deductions.
“Obviously we are in favour of tougher penalties but the key thing is we want fans to come on board. We’ve never had to resort to closing grounds or points deductions in this country because we’ve had campaigns.
“That’s what is needed in Serbia. Unless you have a campaign within the game and get anti-racist fans on board so that they feel comfortable in challenging racism then you are always going to have a problem.
“The problem in Serbia and also some other countries, notably Spain and Italy and some of the other central European countries is the lack of any action which would make fans more comfortable in challenging it in those places.”
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