‘Slanty eyes’ Serbian volleyballer suspended for two matches

Serbian volleyballer Sanja Djurdjevic on June 1 makes a “slanty eyes” gesture during a globally televised match against Thailand on June 1.
Serbian volleyballer Sanja Djurdjevic on June 1 makes a “slanty eyes” gesture during a globally televised match against Thailand on June 1.

The International Volleyball Federation, or FIVB, on Tuesday announced that it has imposed sanctions on the Serbian volleyball player who insulted the Thai national team with a “slanty eyes” gesture. 

The FIVB Disciplinary Panel Sub-Committee issued a statement yesterday stating that it found Sanja Djurdjevic, a player of the Serbia women’s national volleyball team, violating the disciplinary regulations after she drew two fingers to the side of her face to mock Thai players during a match on June 1 that was broadcasted on television. 

Djurdjevic has been suspended for two matches,  according to the FIVB. This means that she will miss the match on June 8 against Belgium and another on June 12 against Canada.

Serbia says racist taunt of Thai player wasn’t disrespectful

The Volleyball Federation of Serbia was also fined CHF20,000 (US$22,318) over the incident. Last week, the Serbian federation said that Djurdjevic was remorseful but “didn’t mean any disrespect.” The apology also described the gesture as “unfortunate” rather than acknowledging its roots in racism.

“We apologize sincerely to the Thailand team, people of Thailand and to all of you affected by this,” the federation wrote on June 1. “But, please, don’t blow this out of proportion! Sanja is aware of her mistake and she immediately apologized to the whole Thailand team. She only wanted to show her teammates ‘let’s start playing defense like them now’, she didn’t mean any disrespect. Of course, it was unfortunate.”

The FIVB said it will donate the fine to a cause dedicated to tackling discriminatory behavior and/or to fund educational programs on cultural sensitivity.

This is not the first time that the Serbian national team has offended others. The entire team drew flak in 2017 for making the same gesture in a photo after learning that they were heading to Japan.

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Serbia says racist taunt of Thai player wasn’t disrespectful

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