So all of a sudden everybody has noticed that Serbia is a pit of racist hooliganism, thuggery and defiant belligerence towards generally accepted standards of human decency. Everybody, that is, except FIFA.
In case you've missed it or avoided it or otherwise feel like getting angry, here's one of the many widely available clips of the very end of the England-Serbia U21 match in Krusevac:
Now before you start believing your own lying eyes and ears, the FSS wants you to know that:
"(The) FA of Serbia absolutely refuses and denies that there were any occurrences of racism before and during the match at the stadium in Krusevac."
You can read any number of summaries elsewhere, if you're interested; suffice it to say that the report England's FA filed with UEFA yesterday describes a series of incidents beginning with monkey chants during warmups, Serbian players and coaches shoving and insulting England players in the pregame tunnel and loud and continual racist abuse from the stands (which was reported to the UEFA delegate as early as half-time).
The monkey chanting only intensified in the second half, most of it when Danny Rose touched the ball, and reached a crescendo at the end of the game when Conor Wickham scored the winner. Rose reacted with a fist-pumping gesture to the crowd that had been abusing him, and kicked the ball into the stands.
(All of which leaves aside the constant hail of missiles from the stands; reportedly, even the UEFA delegate got nailed a few times.)
The attitude of the Serbian government was summarized nicely by Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, who is also Serbia’s police chief; he is demanding that the England players be charged with criminal behavior.
As for FIFA Grandee Sepp Blatter, who has made the battle against racism the cornerstone of his
campaign for a Nobel Peace Prize administration, he said that he is always "saddened" to hear of this kind of thing and added:
"We must keep fighting to eradicate discrimination from our sport. Kick racism out of football."
A lovely summary of Blatter's approach. His response to a torrent of obscene, grotesque and outrageous racialist abuse showering down onto a football field is to repeat some meaningless boilerplate followed by a stale, trite slogan.
And this kind of thing "saddens" him? Really? It doesn't "enrage", "infuriate" or "anger" him?
"Sad" is when a cat gets hit by a car or heavy rains ruin your strawberry patch. "Mad as hell, demanding some answers and getting ready to kick some ass" is sort of what we'd rather see.
Maybe he figures if everyone had just taken his advice last year when he said that a post game handshake would solve football racism, this stuff wouldn't keep happening. Or perhaps he feels that we need another go-round of the "Just say no to Racism" campaign, with the two teams meeting behind a big sign while the captains drone their way through some leaden prose about respect and brotherhood.
Or maybe - I'm just spitballing here - someone needs to come down on these subhuman miscreants like a ton of bricks, as both a corrective measure and a warning to others that if they're going to continue to do this stuff there are going to be serious, meaningful consequences.
Like, for example, with the Russians, who are being forced to host the 2018 World Cup due to a long and ugly history of this kind of thing.
Back in 2007, Serbia had a very similar incident during a match with an age group team from England for which FIFA fined them the princely sum of £16,500.
Unfortunately, that is very comparable to the £10,000 fine levied on FC Porto last year when their fans showered Mario Balotelli with racist abuse, or the £10,000 fine Croatia had to pay for an incident very similar to the one in Serbia.
Contrast this with, for example, the 100,000 euro fine levied on Nicklas Bendtner of Denmark for the unspeakable crime of displaying the corporate logo on the waistband of his compression shorts at Euro 2012.
I'll let you draw your own conclusions about which kind of infraction FIFA takes more seriously.
And just to make it clear what's going on here, consider:
One of the most famous Serbian footballers of all time is Sinisa Mihajlovic, who spent 14 years in Serie A, mostly with Lazio and Sampdoria.
He was known, to put it bluntly, as a hardass ankle breaker and notorious face-spitter. Oh, and a virulent racist.
In 2000, for example, he got into a post game shoving match with Patrick Viera and admittted calling the latter a "nero di merda".
Literally: black piece of shit.
A couple years later, he was fined and suspended for eight games by UEFA for spitting on and then kicking Chelsea's Adrian Mutu - who was lying on the ground at the time - during a Champion's League match.
Furthermore, he is widely known to have been a close friend, ally and confidant of the "Paramilitary" leader and genocidal maniac known as "Arkan" who was responsible for some of the worst of the ethnic cleansing mass executions and forced sex slavery camps during the anti-Muslim Kosovo war which only ended when President Clinton led a NATO bombing campaign against them which promised to turn Serbia into a huge undifferentiated pile of dust.
(And even with NATO emptying out their warehouses of explosive ordinance on their heads it still took the Serbs 30 days to agree to stop the slaughter; they wanted to finish the job)
Now in any civilized country Mihajlovic would be considered a national embarrassment.
Last May, Serbia made him their national team coach.
Upon taking over the Beli Orlovi (White Eagles), his first order of business was to cut midfielder Adem Ljajic of Fiorentina, the only Muslim on the team, for refusing to sing the Serbian Anthem at a match against Spain. The song, which is actually the old Kingdom of Serbia anthem, is an Orthodox Christian hymn beseeching God to protect the Serbian race.
God of Justice, You who saved us From our nation's falling, Hear the voices of your children, And be our salvation from now on.
Defend with Your mighty hand, That future Serbia walks to, God save; God defend, Serbian lands and Serbian race
Llajic said his religion forbids him from praying to any god but Allah - not to mention the fact that "The Serbian Race" referred to most specifically does not include him - so the coach expelled him from the team. The Serbian FA backed Mihajlovic up, saying:
'The door has not been closed forever on the national team but he needs to change his attitude and officially notify Mihajlovic that he has done so. Then when his form merits it, he can return.'
Or, more bluntly, as soon as he's willing to change religions, he can come back.
Noted Human Rights Crusaders Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter were asked to intervene but refused to get involved.
Just say "meh" to racism.
Coincidentally, at almost exactly the same time as Serbia was awarding their national team coaching job to a virulently racist bigot with close friends in the genocide business, a very strange thing was happening at the FIFA Executive Committee meeting in Budapest.
Unexpectedly (it apparently was not originally on the agenda) FIFA's Executive Committee voted to allow Kosovo to play international friendly games against members.
For those who need a refresher: after ten or so years of UN administration, the Republic of Kosovo declared it's independence in early 2008. It is recognized as a sovereign nation by the US, Germany, the UK, Italy, France, Poland, Australia, China and some 90 other nations as well as the IMF and the World Bank. The International Court of Justice has ruled that Kosovo's status as an independant nation is beyond dispute.
And to be clear, Kosovo isn't asking FIFA to make them full members. That status is reserved for longstanding giants like South Sudan, which was founded in February of 2011, and CONCACAF's own Anguilla, - population 13,500 on 35 square miles - which lost to T&T 10-0 on the same day that Serbian fans were doing their Cheetah imitations.
In short, they're not asking for anything like what they deserve; rather, they just want to be allowed to play some games.
Nevertheless, in response to the ExCo decision, the Serbians went - to coin a term - apeshit.
They were "outraged". They "demanded" a reversal. They said that allowing some Kosovars to play soccer would have "negative and harmful effects" and called it an "unjustified decision which could have far-reaching consequences across the region."
Most of all, they rushed a high level delegation to Zurich for an "urgent meeting" with Blatter and Jerome Valke to talk them out of it.
FIFA made it clear that they would not be discussing the ExCo decision, but would be happy to sit down and talk over the "logistics" of the situation.
Of course most people would say that FIFA ought to go ahead and start making Kosovo a full member anyway, Serbia be damned.
The stumbling block is that in order to be considered for FIFA membership you have to first be accepted into your regional confederation, which in this case is of course UEFA.
And not only will UEFA not discuss it, but out of the 8 ExCo members from Europe not one of them voted in favor of allowing Kosovo to suit up. Not a single one. The motion was passed by the rest of the world over their unanimous objection.
Which would normally leave one to ask why. But not in this case.
No, nobody gives a damn what the Serbs think. But EVERYBODY cares what Russia thinks.
And Russia, which has a history of racist incidents and hooligan violence which takes a back seat to absolutely no one's, is Serbia's Daddy.
Russia is why Kosovo is not already a member of the UN, and Russia is why Serbia can run to Zurich and pound the conference tables and make ridiculous demands despite being an international embarrassment.
Did I mention that FIFA awarded the 2018 World Cup to this coven of gangsters?
Which brings us back to this latest display from Serbia, which has to play national team fixtures in dumps like Krusevac because if they hold them in Belgrade the various club's hooligans only end up trying to kill each other in the stands and on the streets.
FIFA needs to stop making up slogans and proposing handshakes to solve football racism. They need to get serious, and this incident in Serbia is a good place to start, since they're a multiple offender who, despite mounds of video evidence, are willing to stand up and deny that anything happened.
FIFA should take the following measures:
1) Demand a full admission from the Serbian FA that the crowd in Krusevac on 16 October engaged in racist taunting and physical violence directed at the England side.
2) Demand full cooperation with a UEFA/European Community effort to identify as many of the perpetrators as possible and the issuance of lifetime bans to same.
3) Demand that the Serbian federation issue an open apology to Danny Rose, the England FA, UEFA, FIFA and the world football community for the behavior they and we have been forced to witness.
4) A fine of one million Euros.
5) A one year ban from all international competitions.
6) A two year ban on allowing attendees into Serbian National matches.
7) Immediate acceptance of Kosovo's right to play international exhibition matches.
The last is particularly important. It will hurt, it will make them furious and it will, coincidentally, send a message to Russia that they need to spend a little more time and effort putting their own house in order.
Serbia needs to get the message: this stuff has to stop.