Stephen Goldsmith writes: This is the second time Danny Rose has appeared in a Salut! Reflections feature in the space of about three weeks. Both topics are based around Danny trying to do what he enjoys the most – play football. The issues raised, however, branch and contrast away from each other in startling fashion.
While I feel it was right to question the premature nature of Rose’s desire to make his switch from Tottenham a permanent one, it can only be commendable that the source of that very desire is to play football on a regular basis.
And that’s all he wanted to do on Tuesday evening, play football.
You don’t have to be a Sunderland, Spurs, or indeed, an England fan to be shocked by the scenes that escalated at the final whistle in Serbia on Tuesday evening. As another Sunderland youngster, Connor Wickham, grabbed the England Under 21 side a last gasp winner, the confrontation and acts of aggression displayed by the Serbian players was disturbing, to say the least. As a visibly upset Rose was being ushered from the pitch, he proceeded to kick the stationary ball in anger. As the scenes unfolded it was a sadly predictable assumption to make that racism may have played a part here. Rose has since explained: “In the second half, I had two stones hit me on the head when I went to get the ball for a throw in. Every time I touched the ball, they did the monkey chanting”. Such treatment, coupled with winning an important game so dramatically, resulted in Danny having the audacity to celebrate wildly.
How dare he?
As some Serbian players appeared to sympathise with Rose’s plight, others ran at him aggressively. It was glaringly obvious to all and everyone that our players – black and white – needed to be escorted off the field with some haste to preserve their safety. There was one authoritative figure around who could perhaps have tried to aid this subsequent course of action, Deniz Aytekin, the referee. Mr Aytekin did indeed proceed to force his way through the melee of players, only to then brandish a second yellow card – and the subsequent red one – in front of the left back’s face.
Not only did Aytekin fail to diffuse a sensitive, inexcusable and outright dangerous situation, he automatically handed the unruly Serbian players, coaches and fans the initiative to believe there was some possible justification to the actions carried out in their treatment of their victim. In normal circumstances, Rose may have no complaints at being cautioned for such behaviour; it is after all, unsporting to petulantly kick a ball away. But can anybody really find a flaw in Rose’s argument that he was racially abused here? The notion of a player using racist treatment as a smokescreen for petulant behaviour is dead-on-arrival in this instant due to the fact that Rose was representing a side that just scored a last minute winner. It would be an odd mark of joyous celebration to kick a stationary ball in anger. Anybody with an ounce of sense could see that Danny needed protecting rather than punishing.
Now I’m not prepared to condemn an entire nation here – I was openly critical of scaremongering tactics approaching tournament football held in Ukraine and Poland this summer. Some have made the fair point that UEFA can’t eradicate racism from Serbian football, and that educated and right thinking Serbs actually hold the key to that particular challenge. Well I can relate to that, but England has witnessed similar behaviour here previously – in the same fixture back in 2007. Now I’m not suggesting that Serbia hasn’t tried to rectify the problem since, but UEFA has a duty to keep an eye on the situation, surely? It shouldn’t be down to England to have to take extra steps in providing evidence. You would think that reputations being at stake would prompt measures to made proactively rather than re-actively. And you would have expected the Serbian F.A to assist UEFA in the fight against racism by their condemnation of the events. You would assume that ‘right minded’ people would have the responsibility of running Serbian football, after all. Yet the best of some of what they have since come up with is:
During each and every minute of the match, until the mentioned last one, sports atmosphere full of respecting fair-play spirit was at the pitch and the stands
Unfortunately, after the fourth minute of the additional time and the victory goal scored by the guest team, unpleasant scenes were seen at the pitch. And while most of the English team players celebrated the score, their player number 3, Danny Rose, behaved in inappropriate, unsportsmanlike and vulgar manner towards the supporters on the stands at the stadium in Kruševac.
Now casually glancing through free video sites on the internet, there are numerous examples of monkey chanting as the mayhem breaks out. There aren’t, as of yet, similar videos confirming this behaviour during the game, although it appears the English F.A have confidently provided evidence to back Danny’s claims up. So until that particular evidence is leaked, we can safely assume that Danny Rose turned the Serbia fans into racists by his behaviour at the final whistle.
In the mean time, UEFA have charged Serbia AND England with failing to control their players.