Pearce has faith in UEFA over Serbia shame
07:00 13 November 2012
England Under-21s boss Stuart Pearce trusts UEFA to make the “right and proper decision” about how to deal with the controversial events at last month’s 1-0 victory in Serbia.
Trouble flared at the end of the Euro 2013 play-off second leg in Krusevac on October 16 after Connor Wickham’s stoppage-time goal, which saw the visitors advance to next summer’s tournament in Israel with a 2-0 aggregate triumph.
Missiles were thrown and some fans got on to the pitch, while there were clashes involving players and staff from both teams.
This was played out against a backdrop of alleged racial abuse from the stands towards England players, with Tottenham defender Danny Rose - on loan at Sunderland - who was sent off after the final whistle for kicking the ball away in anger, complaining he had been particularly targeted.
UEFA have charged the Serbian and English Football Associations over the behaviour of their players and the former for the alleged racist chanting.
UEFA’s control and disciplinary body will convene on November 22 to deal with the case and speaking about the matter today, Pearce said: “I trust UEFA to make the right and proper decision on what they have seen - on video evidence and with their assessor having being at the game, what he heard and saw.
“Whatever my internal thoughts are is a little bit irrelevant. We will know soon how UEFA are going to address this.”
The Serbian Football Association (FSS), who handed lengthy bans to two of their own players for their part in the confrontations, have denied fans at the game were guilty of “any occurrences of racism” and accused Rose of acting in an “inappropriate, unsportsmanlike and vulgar manner” towards supporters.
Meanwhile, the English FA are continuing to communicate with the Balkan nation over reports criminal charges had been laid against Tottenham’s Steven Caulker and Leeds’ Tom Lees, plus coach Steve Wigley.
Asked if he was angry about the way the Serbian authorities had conducted themselves since the match, Pearce said: “Not overly, and I’m not sure if the police did actually charge any of ours - it was mooted that they were going to.
“As far as we are concerned, I try to educate the players, and all of my staff do, in terms of the way to behave and what might be ahead of them in certain games, and I think they handled themselves fantastically well.
“If we had got beaten in the game, that would have been the devastation - if we had lost our focus because of what was going on, and ended up getting beaten in the game and going out of the tournament, that would have been the one thing that hurt most for me.
“But we know that probably what happened and how it sparked off was due to the fact that it was the Serbian team who were going out of the tournament.”
Pearce was speaking ahead of today’s friendly against Northern Ireland at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road.
Although the squad for that match is much-changed from the Serbia game, there are still a number of players involved this time who were in Krusevac.
Pearce has reiterated his pride at how his team and staff conducted themselves on that occasion and believes the experience has made the group stronger.
“Going back to our dressing room after that second leg, I was immensely proud of the way we didn’t react under provocation, both staff and players,” Pearce said.
“I knew full well at that stage that it would galvanise this group and team even more.
“For me, you have to try to draw positives out of a really negative situation, and I think we will and we have.
“They are little markers which make us stronger as a group.”
Pearce has seen the likes of Raheem Sterling, Caulker and Wilfried Zaha promoted to the senior England squad and has rested several players, including Rose.
He has given maiden call-ups to Manchester United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, Watford’s on-loan Chelsea defender Nathaniel Chalobah, Leicester defender Liam Moore, Derby midfielder Will Hughes, Bolton’s on-loan Arsenal striker Benik Afobe and now Sheffield United defender Harry Maguire.
“We have brought some new faces in that have done extremely well,” said Pearce, whose side have won their last five games.
“We need to make sure that with the pool of players we have to pick from for next summer that we have had a good look at everybody.
“Everybody has to stake a claim, particularly with players being elevated into the seniors.
“We need to know the next generation that are coming through to us.”