Europa League: Partizan apologise for anti-Semitic banner against Tottenham

Partizan's banner - with offensive words erased
Image: Partizan's banner - with offensive words erased

Partizan Belgrade have apologised for the anti-Semitic banner which was displayed by their fans at Thursday night's Europa League tie against Tottenham.

The Serbian club described the supporters' behaviour as a "mindless act".

A number of the club's supporters unfurled the sign during the opening group game.

Now the Serbian SuperLiga side have moved to distance themselves from those supporters, claiming their actions make the country's fight to stamp out discrimination "worthless".

UEFA has confirmed that it has opened disciplinary proceedings against Partizan.

In a statement UEFA said: "Disciplinary proceedings have been opened against FK Partizan for racist behaviour of their supporters, field invasions by supporters, setting-off of fireworks and use of laser pointer.

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"The case will be dealt by the UEFA control, ethics and disciplinary body on October 3."

Partizan admitted it had been embarrassed by the banner. A statement on the club's wesbite read: "Dear football aficionados in Serbia and Europe," it read.

"The football match between Partizan and Tottenham was eagerly awaited in our city and we watched fine performances from both teams in a fair-play sporting atmosphere.

"But this game was marred by malicious act of certain individuals who made all  the efforts from our players and our club to prove we deserve our spot in football Europe worthless.

"FC Partizan resolutely disavows with anti-Semitic banner displayed yesterday.  The message displayed on that banner is completely opposite to preferences and opinions of almost all citizens of Serbia and Partizan fans.

"It is absolutely absurd to link a club that was founded after the WWII on anti-fascist principles and after the battle of people of Europe with anti-Semitism and similar dark and anti-civilisation impulses.

"We fully condemn perpetrators of this mindless act, not only of anti-Semitic nature, but one that represents hatred of Partizan and Serbia as well.

"We believe this vicious action will not spoil our sporting friendship with Tottenham and football aficionados in Great Britain. In cooperation with competent authorities, Partizan FC will do everything to locate, trial and ban those perpetrators from sporting fields.

"We apologise to everyone who found themselves insulted and upset by this banner.Once again, we point out that such banner message is completely opposite to history and tradition of our club, and our fans' aspirations."

Anti-discrimination body Kick It Out has urged UEFA to send a clear message to clubs by punishing Partizan.

"These incidents seem to be happening in particular countries and in certain parts of Europe where they don't take them as seriously as we do on our shores," Kick It Out's media and communications manager Richard Bates said.

"Incidents aren't dealt with in the appropriate manner within those countries - if they don't take a firm stance and they're allowed to slide, the reality is it will continue to happen.

"We need UEFA to take a lead, which they have done more over the last couple of years, and demonstrate clearly that these sorts of incidents are completely unacceptable.

"It's always disappointing when any incident like this occurs. It's disheartening, it's not acceptable in any way and, after a thorough investigation, it needs to be dealt with in the appropriate manner."

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