Serbian volleyball player is suspended after she is caught on camera making racist gesture during match against Thailand
- Sanja Djurdjevic was suspended for two games after she was caught on camera
- She narrowed her eyes with her fingers during the June 1 match against Thailand
- She apologised immediately to the Thai team, according to her Instagram post
- Volleyball Federation of Serbia asked fans not to ‘blow this out of proportion’
- Whole Serbian team were seen on camera making the same gesture in May 2017
A Serbian volleyball player has been suspended after she was caught on camera making a racist gesture during a match against Thailand.
Sanja Djurdjevic was suspended for two games after a screenshot of her narrowing her eyes with her fingers during the match on June 1, was posted online, triggering a backlash.
She was also slapped with a £15,000 fine which the Volleyball Federation of Serbia (FVIB) said would be donated to either an anti-discrimination charity or an educational program on cultural sensitivity.
Serbian volleyball player Sanja Djurdjevic was suspended after she was caught on camera narrowing her eyes with her fingers during a match against Thailand on June 1
The Serbian volleyball player was suspended for two games and ordered to pay a £15,000 fine after she was found to be in violation of disciplinary rules
Djurdjevic has apologised for the gesture, writing on Instagram: ‘I am aware of my mistake and I immediately, after the match, apologised to the whole Thailand team.
‘I only wanted to address my teammates with the message: ‘Now, we will start playing defence like them,’ I didn’t mean to disrespect anyone’, she added on her page, which has since been deactivated.
The Volleyball Federation of Serbia also apologised for the incident, terming it a ‘simple misunderstanding’ and asking fans not to ‘blow this out of proportion’ in a statement.
‘Sanja is aware of her mistake and she immediately apologised to the whole Thailand team,’ it added.
‘She didn’t mean any disrespect. Of course, it was unfortunate. It all ended up as a simple misunderstanding, in a friendly atmosphere between the players of the two teams’.
But, a petition calling on the federation to ‘do their job and discipline their players’ had gathered more than 5,200 signatures online by Thursday morning.
It argued Djurdjevic should face a harsher punishment for the racist gesture, saying ‘an apology is the bare minimum as a human being.’
‘Djurdjevic and the National Volleyball Team represent their country in an official sport with official FIVB rules and those rules need to be upheld to maintain credibility and set the standard for the world…
‘When athletes and teams violate the most basic ethics of respect, governing bodies must set the right example to protect the disrespected and marginalised to maintain their standards and integrity’, it added.
In May 2017 the Serbian volleyball team landed in hot water after celebrating securing a place in the World Championship in Japan by posing for a photo with the same racist gesture
In May 2017 the Serbian volleyball team celebrated securing a place in the World Championship in Japan by posing for a team photo with the same racist gesture.
Players put their fingers to their eyes seemingly mimicking a Japanese person after beating Poland to clinch the spot in the competition.
The on-court picture was posted on the qualifying tournament’s website before it was hurriedly taken down.
It is not the first time athletes have made the gestures in poor taste.
In 2017, Argentine footballer Ezequiel Lavezzi was forced to issue an apology after a photograph of him pulling a face to mimic the Chinese went viral on social media.
And, in 2008, the Spanish basketball team published an advertisement showing the players from both the men’s and the women’s team using their fingers to make their eyes look more Chinese on a basketball court adorned with a Chinese dragon.
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