Serbian volleyball player Sanja Djurdjevic received a two-match ban for making a racist gesture last week during a match against the Thai national team which took place in Italy on June 1st.
Djurdjevic was photographed by cameramen pulling her eyelids apart to make the slant-eye gesture during the FIVB Volleyball Women’s Nationals League match, after one of the Thai players failed to win a point.
Screenshots of the incident soon went viral and quickly aroused the ire of internet users around the world.
The player has already apologised, while the Serbian Volleyball Federation described the incident as “a simple misunderstanding”.
Even so, the apology was not enough and, in addition to Djurdjevic’s sanction, it was also revealed that the federation was fined 20,000 Swiss francs (THB 700,000).
According to the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), the money will be donated to “a cause tackling discriminatory behaviour and/or to fund educational programmes on cultural sensitivity for the global Volleyball Family.”
The 23-year-old will miss her team’s upcoming matches against Belgium and Canada.
The pressure from fans was a catalyst for action, as thousands of them signed a petition for the player to face disciplinary consequences for her act.
Once the incident went viral, Djurdjevic apologised in several posts on her Instagram account which are no longer visible, as she set it to private.
The Serbian federation posted an apology on its Facebook page: “We apologise sincerely to the Thailand team, people of Thailand and to all of you affected by this,” they wrote.