UEFA set to appeal for tougher sanctions on Serbia
NYON, Switzerland (AP) -- UEFA is likely to seek tougher sanctions against Serbia by appealing the verdict of its own independent panel after England players were racially abused at an Under-21 European Championship match.
UEFA said on Friday that its president Michel Platini, who is in Japan for FIFA meetings, will next week proceed to challenge sanctions announced on Thursday by its independent disciplinary panel.
The Football Association of Serbia was fined ?80,000 ($105,000) and ordered to play one under-21 home match in an empty stadium.
Platini has previously visited Belgrade to urge Serbia's government to enact stricter laws and do more to tackle violence and discrimination by its fans.
UEFA's panel also banned two Serbia team coaches from football for two years for involvement in clashes on the pitch following the match in Krusevac in October. England won 1-0 and advanced to the finals tournament in Israel in June.
UEFA also imposed international match suspensions on four Serbia players.
The English Football Association said on Thursday that Serbia's punishments were too light. The FA pledged to appeal suspensions for two England players, defender Steven Caulker and midfielder Thomas Ince, which would be enforced at the finals in Israel.
Serbia FA general secretary Zoran Lakovic acknowledged on Thursday that the Balkan country was on its "last warning'' from UEFA.
"I remind everyone that we are under special UEFA scrutiny and even the smallest next mistake could lead to rigorous punishment,'' Lakovic said.
Serbia's critics hoped for sanctions which could be applied to senior team matches during its World Cup qualifying campaign.
Serbia trails third in a group led by Belgium and Croatia. Its next matches are away to Croatia on March 22 and home to Scotland on March 26.
UEFA statutes allow it to intervene in disciplinary matters.
This month, UEFA's appeals panel imposed a lifetime expulsion from football on Malta midfielder Kevin Sammut in a match-fixing case after the governing body challenged the disciplinary verdict of a 10-year ban.
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