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Serbia: Fans Outraged by FIFA's Sanctions Against Serbia Coach Radomir Antic

The controversial decisions of several referees participating in the World Cup and their methods have been brought into question by fans, bloggers [ENG], journalists [ENG] and national football associations worldwide during this, the world’s largest international sporting event. Although FIFA President Blatter has made public apologies to Mexico and France for poor and arbitrary decisions, which does not lessen the irreversible damage done to these teams, FIFA obviously supports the referees’ decisions, and the organization's Disciplinary Committee's recent decisions, which are widely considered to be unfair and harsh, only make matters worse.

Bloggers from Serbia, Croatia, and even Spain and Brazil are generally shocked by FIFA Disciplinary Committee's decision and harshness in sanctions brought against Serbia's squad coach Radomir Antic [ENG] and Portuguese player Ricardo Costa, who will be fined and banned from their national teams’ next 4 and 3 matches, respectively.

In Serbian coach Antic's case, FIFA has offered no further explanation for the sanctions against Antic, other than listing the reason to be “innappropriate conduct” toward World Cup referee Jorge Larrionda after the Serbia-Australia match that led to a 1-2 loss for Serbia and its team's subsequent dropping out of the World Cup.

As Serbian PressOnline.rs reports [SRP], after a press conference held by the Football Association of Serbia upon receiving the news of FIFA’s decision, coach Antic has confessed to insulting the referee in question:

The head of the managerial team of our national squad, who incidentally lives in Spain, had several things to say to the referee in his native tongue. The experienced expert, upon his arrival to Belgrade, personally revealed that he had insulted Larrionda, having been provoked by the injustice and poor arbitrary decisions.

- “I cursed the referee in Spanish, because he did not appreciate the importance of our match against Australia. – Antic confessed at the time”

Over the past few days, many Serbian bloggers and media have had much to say about the incident and FIFA’s decision. Sta sam ti rekao (What did I tell you) blog says [SRP]:

According to eyewitness reports, Antic resented Larrionda’s decision not to call a penalty near the very end of the match, when Tim Cayhill obviously played with his arm. All his happened while the score was 1-2 and an eventual goal would have allowed Serbia placement in the quarterfinals…

Blogs and media have also been comparing FIFA's most recent sanctions at this World Cup with decisions in the past, both by FIFA and UEFA. Some, such as the above quoted blogger from Sta sam ti rekao, are outraged as they recall that Portugal's coach at the time, Luiz Felipe Scolari, was banned by UEFA from the same number of matches for physically assaulting Serbian player Ivica Dragutinovic during the Serbia – Portugal match in the qualifications for EURO 2008. Although the decisions were made by two entirely different governing bodies in football, fans seem to feel that Antic's four match sanction for verbally insulting a referee is even harsher than one would initially think when compared to Scolari's four match sanction for striking a player, reminding us that Scolari's punishment was reduced to two matches after the Football Association of Portugal lodged an official complaint to UEFA. The Football Association of Serbia, of course, will lodge an official complaint with FIFA, but the chances that FIFA might reduce the number of matches Antic is to be sanctioned from seem slim when one takes into account the decisions and reactions to other complaints FIFA has reacted to during this World Cup and in recent years.

Bloggers and sports’ journalists around the globe continue to criticise not only referees’ decisions and demeanor during the World Cup in South Africa, but also what has often been described as the autocratic manner in which FIFA President Sepp Blatter runs football's global governing organization and the World Cup. Deutsche Welle sports reporter Sarah Faupel writes [ENG] a nice wrap up of what is going on on FIFA's “top floor” during this World Cup:

Officially, FIFA is registered as a non-profit organization in Switzerland, though it reported a profit of 157 million euros ($198 million) in 2009. The company's revenue, of course, is much larger. For example, it took in 1.6 billion euros in fees by selling the broadcasting rights to the 2010 World Cup. And it can count on a similar amount in the marketing and hospitality branches.

The “surplus” money will mainly go back into the matches, the member associations and other projects. But a lot – much more than should – goes to lining FIFA functionaries’ pockets. The rest goes to the building costs of the federation's headquarters in Zurich, which are estimated to be 130 million euros.

As one reads through all the local and international reports on the matter of the harsh sanctions brought against individuals participating in the largest international competition of the world’s most famed sport, such as Serbia coach Radomir Antic who has thus far had a “clean record”, one cannot help but wonder – while FIFA measures, condones and/or condemns the level of sportsmanship these teams and individuals demonstrate – who is minding FIFA’s conduct and level of sportsmanship?

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