Serbia’s racism problem rears its head again

Ryan Benson

Football generally tries to give the impression that it has racism under control, that’s why FIFA disbanded its anti-racism task force just last September. But in reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Granted, not every country, league and club has to contend with racism. In England, such cases are – thankfully – becoming rarer and rarer, while even in Spain it does generally appear to be getting better.

But one country which constantly seems to be contending with such behaviour is Serbia.

The latest episode took place as Partizan Belgrade travelled across the city to their neighbours Rad. This wasn’t even the big, vociferous derby with Red Star, it was against significantly smaller opposition. But clearly the supporters of the home side fancied a bit of infamy.

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Partizan’s Brazilian midfielder Everton Luiz was allegedly the target of monkey chants throughout the match on Sunday, and his reaction at the end of the match provoked a brawl.

Everton stuck his middle finger up at the home fans and was swiftly swarmed by Rad players, who were seemingly more unimpressed with his gesture than the actions of their own supporters, whom they also applauded once things had calmed down.

After everything had settled and the players left, Everton was photographed in tears as he made his way back to the changing rooms and it is the latest in a long line of incidents involving Serbian football and racism.

In fact, several of these incidents have involved English teams. Danny Rose was subjected to monkey chants during an England Under-21 game in Serbia back in 2012 and he responded by making gestures to the crowd.

Much like at the weekend, a minor brawl ensued and Rose was shown a red card by the referee. Nedum Onuoha was also targeted by the country’s supporters when playing a friendly in Nijmegen, Netherlands in 2007

Partizan found themselves in hot water in 2014 when an anti-semitic banner was unfurled during a match with Tottenham, behaviour which saw the club fined the rather pathetic sum of £31,000.

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The incident with Everton Luiz is only further proof of a problem which doesn’t appear to be disappearing in Serbia, and with FIFA very much taking a back seat with such issues, it is difficult to see how things will improve anytime soon.

Authorities dish out punishments which seemingly do little to deter morons and until they get tougher things won’t get better.

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