Serbia’s Volleyball Federation has been fined after a volleyball player made a racist gesture during a game against Thailand.
Sanja Djurdjevic could be seen pulling her eyelids to make the offensive gesture during a match in Italy at the beginning of the month.
Screenshots of the player making the gesture later made the rounds on social media, sparking a petition calling for Djurdjevic to be held accountable for her behaviour.
In the wake of her actions and the calls for her to be penalised, she has been disciplined by the FIVB Volleyball Nations League and suspended for two matches. The Serbian Volleyball Federation has also been fined more than $20,000 as a consequence.
I stand against all racism
Fu** SRB Not Again
– No.7 Ana Jaksic
– No.31 Sanja Djurdjevic
— (@Naa_1022) June 2, 2021
FIVB Volleyball Nations League said in a statement yesterday, June 8, ‘The FIVB Disciplinary Panel Sub-Committee, which is the independent body competent to impose disciplinary sanctions within FIVB competitions, has found that Ms Sanja Djurdjevic, a player of the Serbia women’s national volleyball team, violated the FIVB Disciplinary Regulations following a gesture made during the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) 2021 match between Serbia and Thailand on 1 June 2021.’
Ms Sanja Djurdjevic has received a two-match suspension. The player will serve her match suspensions during the VNL 2021 matches and will therefore miss Serbia’s match on 8 and 12 June 2021 against Belgium and Canada respectively. In addition, the Volleyball Federation of Serbia has been fined CHF 20.000.
The FIVB will donate the fine to a cause dedicated to tackling discriminatory behaviour and/or to fund educational programmes on cultural sensitivity for the global Volleyball Family.
The FIVB further stated that it is ‘committed to fostering understanding, solidarity and unity against all forms of discriminatory behaviour.’
Djurdjevic has also issued a statement apologising for her actions and says she apologised to Thailand’s team immediately after the game last week.
She wrote on Instagram, ‘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 also apologised to ‘all people all over the world’ whom she caused offense to, Vice News reports.
The volleyball player has since deactivated her Instagram account.
The Volleyball Federation of Serbia has asked people not to ‘blow the situation out of proportion’, but racism towards the Asian community remains an extremely sensitive topic in the wake of recent anti-Asian hate crimes in the US, and in other parts of the world.
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