FA reports racist abuse in Serbia

Pearce
Pearce was saddened by the ugly scenes following his side's win over Serbia. Photo: PA

The Football Association have reported "a number of incidents of racism" to UEFA after ugly scenes marred the England Under-21s' win in Serbia tonight.

Defender Danny Rose was sent off after the final whistle after apparently responding angrily to monkey taunts from the crowd at the end of the Euro 2013 play-off in Krusevac.

Scuffles also broke out when supporters invaded the field moments after Connor Wickham struck in injury time to complete a 2-0 aggregate win and book England's place at next summer's tournament.

A statement from the FA read: "The FA condemns both the scenes of racism and the confrontation at the final whistle during which time our players and staff were under extreme provocation.

"The FA has reported a number of incidents of racism to UEFA following the fixture.

"These were seemingly aimed at a number of England black players by the crowd. The matter is now with UEFA."

Steve Wickham, a member of England's backroom staff, was also caught up in the trouble as players left the field at the Mladost Stadium.

Head coach Stuart Pearce told ESPN: "I think there were one or two racist incidents that came on from the crowd and they have been reported to UEFA, I believe, by ourselves.

"It is in their hands now, they will have to deal with that.

"I am very proud of my players and my staff and very proud of the achievement in getting to a fourth tournament in a row.

"It is very sad, but we are united as a team and a staff.

"A lot is happening in our country with regard to stamping out racism and I am very proud of the reaction of our players towards the end.

"It is a real shame because over two ties it was a really close game - two good teams going hammer and tongs at each other.

"It is just a shame it was soured in the last few minutes of the second leg of the tie."

He added: "Savo Milosevic, their technical director, has come to our dressing room and apologised for any behaviour that was unsavoury.

"I never want to see any football matches end like that, this is a sporting arena."

Former England captain Paul Ince, working as a pundit on ESPN, also felt the visiting players conducted themselves well in the circumstances.

He said: "If you are black, it is hard to actually keep control of yourself because you are the one having the racist chants.

"From looking at what we have seen on TV, they have done very well to keep cool heads.

"It is a shame because tomorrow we will be talking about something we don't want to talk about. What we should be talking about is England qualifying for Israel in 2013."

The ugly scenes at the end overshadowed what had been another superb defensive performance by England.

Protecting a 1-0 lead from the first leg, Pearce's men held firm throughout before substitute Wickham stroked into an empty goal to complete a 2-0 aggregate success in injury time.

Wickham's goal with the last kick of the match prompted the mayhem as missiles were thrown onto the field and the pitch was invaded.

Rose, who had earlier been booked, kicked the ball away angrily and had to be restrained as he reacted to apparent provocation.

Pearce said of the match: "The important thing, when the dust settles, is we are going to a championships because we deserved to over two legs.

"Our players have put a lot of hard effort and sweat to get there. There is a real collectiveness here. We will let the authorities deal with this.

"All we know is we have given a good account of ourselves over two matches, we have won nine out of 10 matches in qualification and I am very proud of my team."

The FA condemns both the scenes of racism and the confrontation at the final whistle during which time our players and staff were under extreme provocation.

The FA has reported a number of incidents of racism to UEFA following the fixture. These were seemingly aimed at a number of England black players by the crowd. The matter is now with UEFA.

– The FA comments on the ugly scenes in Serbia.