FA await news on Serbia charges

  • Last Updated: November 2 2012, 8:03 GMT

The Football Association are hoping to hear from Serbia today about criminal charges laid against England Under-21 internationals Steven Caulker and Tom Lees, plus coach Steve Wigley.

Charges were issued after a brawl in Krusevac

Communication with the Balkan nation has been difficult and frustrating and establishing exactly what is happening in the process has been confusing.

Local reports suggested the files had been handed over to British jurisdiction, but embassy officials in Belgrade have been working since yesterday to discover whether that is the case.

The charges arose in the wake of England Under-21s' stormy qualifier in Krusevac last month but whether prosecutions are to follow is unclear.

In the interim, Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas is confident his 20-year-old defender Caulker is fully focused on football ahead of the visit of Wigan.

"We spoke to the player," said the Spurs boss.

"At the moment we don't have enough information, nor do the FA, although there is contact between the FA, the government and the embassy in Serbia to try to find out more information about the speculation that is coming out.

"Regarding the player I think he will be ready to play.

"I think he obviously has a good chance because he has been doing quite well to make selection.

"I am not worried yet with the consequences of what can happen.

"We are still finding out more information."

Progress was slow yesterday and, having issued a statement in the morning, the Football Association did not get any further updates.

"The FA continues to remain in close contact with the UK Government regarding the continued media reports of Serbian police charging England U21 players and staff," said a statement .

"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 FA has been taking legal advice in both the UK and Serbia to provide appropriate protection should any charges be brought.

"We welcome the support we are receiving from the UK government."

Trouble flared at the match on October 16 after England's Connor Wickham struck in injury time 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 and things turned ugly as some fans got on to the pitch, while there were clashes involving players and staff from both teams.

The Serbian Football Association (FSS) handed lengthy bans to two of their own players and two officials for their part in the confrontations.

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

Defender Danny Rose, who made a specific complaint, was sent off after the final whistle for kicking a ball away in anger amid the chaos.

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.

UEFA's control and disciplinary body will convene on November 22 to deal with the case, but the police investigation will have no bearing on that meeting.


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