2 English players among 12 people charged in Serbia over under-21 match incidents

Published October 30, 2012

| Associated Press

Serbian police filed charges Tuesday against 12 people, including two unidentified English players, over their part in an on-field brawl after an under-21 soccer match marred by alleged racial abuse.

Police in the town of Krusevac, where the match was played on Oct. 16, said that those charged "committed an act of violence during a sports event."

Police said five Serbian and two English players were charged, in addition to assistant coaches from both teams. Serbia fans were also charged for igniting flares during the match.

Their names were not given, but England assistant coach Steve Wingley was seen taking part in the brawl, while Serbian players Nikola Ninkovic and Ognjen Mudrinski have already been suspended by the country's FA for a year for the incidents.

If Serbia's public prosecutors accept the police charges and take the matter to court, those accused could face prison sentences if convicted.

But the police action took the English Football Association by surprise, as it said "it has not received any formal notification of any charges filed by the Serbian authorities."

"We have not been made aware of any of the names of individuals connected with these charges and we therefore await further details and formal communication on these matters," the FA said in a statement. "Meanwhile we are in contact with the British Government for advice, as well as speaking with our colleagues at UEFA.

"The FA reiterates its position of full support for all players and staff caught up in the appalling scenes in Serbia two weeks ago. We want to reassure those concerned that we are committed to doing everything necessary to protect them whilst also offering support to individuals and their families."

Players and officials from both teams clashed on the field following the final whistle amid accusations of racist abuse from the stands toward England defender Danny Rose, who was sent off for kicking a ball into the stands.

The Serbian team has accused Rose of triggering the incidents after the final whistle with inappropriate gestures toward the crowd. He said he was racially abused with monkey chants throughout the match.

England won 2-0 to qualify for the European Under-21 Championship.

After the incident, FA General Secretary Alex Horne said Rose had been the target of racial abuse and threatened to refuse sending teams to play in Serbia in the future.

"No football team should be asked to play in any environment where racial abuse, violence and threatening behavior is prevalent," Horne said.

UEFA has charged both countries' football associations for the brawl, and promised tough action against Serbia for the racial abuse.

The cases will be dealt with at a meeting of UEFA's control and disciplinary body on November 22.

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AP Sports Writer Rob Harris in London contributed to this report.

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