Caulker ban overturned

Congleton Guardian: Steven Caulker's, pictured, UEFA ban was overturned but Tom Ince's appeal over his one-match ban failed Steven Caulker's, pictured, UEFA ban was overturned but Tom Ince's appeal over his one-match ban failed

Steven Caulker will be available for England Under-21s' European finals campaign this summer after a two-match UEFA ban was lifted on appeal.

The Tottenham defender instead received a warning and agreed to do one day's community service. Blackpool winger Tom Ince's appeal against a one-match ban imposed after the same match, the controversial play-off against Serbia in October, was not successful, however, and he will miss the opening match of the tournament.

England U21 manager Stuart Pearce said in a statement: "We respect UEFA's decision and we will now move on and focus on the finals tournament in the summer. We welcome the ruling to overturn Steven Caulker's suspension and choose to accept the verdict with regards to Tom Ince."

He added: "Both players should be proud of the way they represented themselves at UEFA."

UEFA also increased the sanction against Serbia for racist abuse by fans with its under-21 side now having to play two competitive matches behind closed doors rather than one.

Ince and Caulker were initially banned for incidents that took place at the end of a fiery play-off in Krusevac in October which led to the host country Serbia being punished for racist abuse and violent behaviour.

UEFA appealed against the initial disciplinary panel's decision, arguing there should be tougher sanctions against both the England players, and against the Serbian FA, its players and officials. Any lengthy ban would have affected the England players' participation in this summer's European Championship in Israel.

UEFA was partially successful in its appeals in relation to Serbia - fitness coach Andreja Milutinovic was banned for two years instead of one, and player Nikola Ninkovic for three matches instead of two.

UEFA said in a statement: "The Serbian Under-21 team is ordered to play its next two home UEFA competition matches behind closed doors."

It added: "The player Steven Caulker is issued with warning in respect of his future conduct and the player undertakes to perform one full day of community football service according to the instructions to be given by UEFA disciplinary services. The other decisions taken by the control and disciplinary body on December 13 2012 are confirmed."

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