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Serbian volleyball player suspended after making anti-Asian racist gesture during game against Thailand
Sanja Djurdjevic broke the sport’s disciplinary rules on June 1 during the match in Italy, according to a statement released on Tuesday by the FIVB disciplinary panel subcommittee.

In addition to the suspension, the independent body, which is responsible for imposing disciplinary sanctions in FIVB competitions, fined the Serbian volleyball federation the equivalent of $ 22,000. According to the panel, the FIVB will donate the money to a cause dedicated to combating discriminatory behavior and / or to fund educational programs on cultural sensitivity.

Posting on his account since the deactivation, Djurdjevic apologized for his actions. “I am aware of my mistake and immediately after the match apologized to the whole Thai team.”

“I just wanted to address my teammates with the message: ‘Now we are going to start playing defense like them’, I didn’t want to disrespect anyone,” she added.

The Volleyball Federation of Serbia also posted a conciliatory message on Facebook saying that they “sincerely apologize” to the Thai team, but asked people, “don’t distort this! Team from Thailand.”

“She did not want to be disrespectful. Of course, it was unfortunate. It all ended with a simple misunderstanding, in a friendly atmosphere between the players of the two teams,” the team’s statement continued.

The written apology was attached to a video shared by one of the Thai players and an image of teammates from both sides standing together.
As screenshots of the incident were shared widely on social media, thousands of people signed a petition calling for greater accountability.

“An apology is the bare minimum as a human being. But Djurdjevic and the national volleyball team represent their country in an official sport with official FIVB rules and these rules must be observed to maintain credibility and setting the standard for the world, ”he added. petition said.

A global assessment

Djurdjevic’s actions come as the world reckons with a global increase in anti-Asian racism. From the UK to Australia, reports of hate crimes against East and Southeast Asia have increased in Western countries as the pandemic has taken hold over the past year.
Athletes continue to speak out against violence against Asians, highlighting the role social media is playing in bringing these incidents to light. Earlier this year, former NBA star Jeremy Lin urged spectators to “watch these videos to see what’s really going on.”

The FIVB confirmed that Djurdjevic’s sanction is “final”, adding that it is “committed to fostering understanding, solidarity and unity against all forms of discriminatory behavior”.

“The FIVB will continue to work tirelessly with all of its national federations to ensure that these values ​​are reflected throughout the community,” they added.


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