Ince not caught up in Serbia charges

Tom Ince
Tom Ince
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BLACKPOOL’S Tom Ince is not among the people charged over trouble in Serbia.

Reports had claimed Pool’s winger was caught up in a police investigation in relation to the ugly scenes which broke out after an England under-21 match.

However, a Government spokesman confirmed the trio as Tottenham’s Steven Caulker and Tom Lees of Leeds, plus coach Steve Wigley,

The Football Association said there has been “no formal communication of any charges” relating to the race-hate scarred Euro 2013 play-off match in Serbia on October 16.

British diplomats in Belgrade are looking for more clarity with regard to the charges and of the possibility of the case being transferred to the UK.

The Football Association (FA) has been taking legal advice in both the UK and Serbia so they are able to “provide appropriate protection” if charges are brought, a spokesman said.

The FA, who are getting support from the UK Government, said: “There remains no formal communication of any charges to the FA or the Government.

“However, we understand there has been a verbal communication of the names of the individuals concerned, which we now believe to be England players Steven Caulker and Tom Lees, and coach Steve Wigley.

“The FA would like to reaffirm its support for all of our players and staff and we have spoken with the players’ clubs and those named to express this.”

The fall-out over the brawl which followed England’s 1-0 win over Serbia in Krusevac is still unfolding.

If a person who is wanted for prosecution in Serbia does not return voluntarily, the Serbians may call for their extradition to face prosecution there.

Extradition lawyer Anand Doobay said: “That can be a year or it could take couple of months depending on the issues and argument raised in the extradition request.”

Serbia does not have to provide any evidence to support its request, only information to back up the claim that an offence has been committed.

This is because they have signed up to the Council of Europe Convention on Extradition 1957.

The extradition process is supposed to be swift and any hearing in Britain would take place at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London.

The Serbians are looking at a large file regarding the incident at the match, said to involve 12 people.

This should not make the task of investigating what happened, ahead of a potential prosecution, any longer than if it involved fewer key figures.

Mr Doobay said: “The trial process itself would take longer, because you would have more defendants and lawyers asking questions, but I am not sure the investigation would take longer.

“You are not looking at 12 different lines of inquiry.

“You are effectively looking at one incident and how people acted within it.

“To do that you may be speaking to the same people which would not take up any more time.”

It would be different if there was a suggestion that a conspiracy or a plan had been hatched beforehand to cause an offence.

This is not the situation surrounding this match.

Trouble flared at the game after Connor Wickham struck in injury time for England to secure a 1-0 win and passage to next summer’s finals in Israel courtesy of a 2-0 aggregate success.

Missiles were thrown onto the pitch as players celebrated. The scenes turned uglier as some fans got onto the playing surface and there were clashes involving members and staff of both teams.

The Serbian football association (FSS) acted decisively over this matter, handing lengthy bans to two players and two officials for their part in the confrontations.

Ognjen Mudrinski and Nikola Ninkovic were given one-year suspensions while coaches Srdjan Maksimovic and Andreja Milutinovic were handed two-year bans.

But this trouble was played out against a backdrop of alleged racial abuse from the stands towards England players.

Defender Danny Rose complained he had been particularly targeted and was sent off after the final whistle for kicking a ball away in anger amid the chaos.

Racist chanting was not acknowledged by the FSS who also claimed Rose had acted in an “inappropriate, unsportsmanlike and vulgar manner” towards their fans.

European governing body Uefa launched their own disciplinary proceedings, charging the FA over the behaviour of their players and the FSS with the same and for the alleged racist chanting.

A Uefa spokesman said: “Uefa’s control and disciplinary body will meet on November 22 to deal with this case and take a decision.

“The police charges/investigation are independent from us and do not impact the sporting disciplinary proceedings.”