Caulker ban lifted
Steven Caulker's two-match UEFA ban that threatened his participation in England Under-21s' European finals campaign this summer has been lifted on appeal.
The Tottenham defender instead received a warning and agreed to do one day's community service. Blackpool winger Tom Ince's appeal against a one-match ban imposed after the same match, the controversial play-off against Serbia in October, was not been successful, however.
UEFA also increased the sanction against Serbia for racist abuse by fans with its under-21 side now having to play two competitive matches behind closed doors rather than one.
Ince and Caulker were initially banned for incidents that took place at the end of a fiery play-off second leg in Krusevac on October 16 which led to match hosts Serbia being punished for racist abuse and violent behaviour.
UEFA appealed against the disciplinary panel's initial decision, arguing there should be tougher sanctions against both the England players, and against the Serbian FA, its players and officials. Any lengthy ban would have affected the England players' participation in this summer's European Championships in Israel.
The Football Association had backed the players to the hilt - Ince and Caulker flew to Switzerland to make personal appearances at the appeal hearing at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon, on the shores of Lake Geneva. They were accompanied by England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce and two FA legal representatives, one of whom is a Swiss lawyer.
UEFA was partially successful in its appeals in relation to Serbia - fitness coach Andreja Milutinovic was banned for two years instead of one, and player Nikola Ninkovic for three matches instead of two. UEFA said in a statement: "The Serbian U-21 team is ordered to play its next two home UEFA competition matches behind closed doors."
It added: "The player Steven Caulker is issued with warning in respect of his future conduct and the player undertakes to perform one full day of community football service according to the instructions to be given by UEFA disciplinary services. The other decisions taken by the control and disciplinary body on December 13 2012 are confirmed."
The FA said it was pleasing that UEFA had ruled in their favour on Caulker, and that it was time to look forward to the team's task in the summer.
Pearce said in a statement: "We respect UEFA's decision and we will now move on and focus on the finals tournament in the summer. We welcome the ruling to overturn Steven Caulker's suspension and choose to accept the verdict with regards to Tom Ince. Both players should be proud of the way they represented themselves at UEFA."
- Vandalised Boer War memorial will be restored
- Nit-picking at Wednesbury
- Wartime Shelters - Part Three Keeping Calm or a Right Carry On?
- "The flaming tongues that scorch you shall herald the dawn of Peace"
- West Bromwich MP's election address unopened for 103 years
- The early days of public health in West Bromwich