Date: 16th February 2013 at 11:30am
Written by:

UEFA have overturned their initial two game international ban for Steven Caulker following there fall out in Serbia in England’s U-21 play off victory in October. Though they have retained Tom Ince’s one game suspension. They have opted to warn Caulker over his future conduct and have him serve one days football based community service instead. For some reason, I actually like the community service order, and wonder if this could be used more widely in the game, and feel that perhaps it offers a great opportunity to inspire young players and also keep players in touch with the real world and the grass roots game.

Frustratingly, UEFA have bottled the big decision over whether to dramatically increase the punishment towards Serbia, as they have only increased their order of playing one match behind closed doors, to two games, and there has been no increase on the £65,000 fine. Serbia had feared being banned from the next European U-21 Championships in 2015, and a national ban was something that Michel Platini threatened after the senior side’s fans forced the abandonment of their Euro 2012 Qualifier in October 2010. Their punishment for that offence, included the order of playing one game behind closed doors, should they reoffend within two years. The U-21 game occurred one day inside that order, so this or the initial punishment is hardly tough.

The sooner UEFA and FIFA realise that they are the best people to stamp out violence and racism in the game the better, and it seems obvious that the pitiful fines and threats of bans are simply not working. Serbia were terrified that they would be banned from the next Championships and perhaps even to see the senior side and the national FA sanctioned, however, UEFA seem reluctant to take the right and severe actions for fear of harming the development of a national game, but perhaps they need a greater vision to their solving the problem. For example, could they force Serbia to play all their home games in a neutral country and also banning their supporters from these games? This allows the country to develop and compete, whilst punishing the fans for their part in a long list of crimes.

As for the individual Serbian players and coaches, I suppose we have seen reasonable sanctions issued, however, we also need to see the Serbian FA work to stamp out the problems instead of looking at self preservation and denial or this problem will never be resolved…