There is absolutely no place for racist insults on the playing field, or in this case, a volleyball court. The Volleyball Federation of Serbia officially apologized to the Thailand volleyball team after one of the Serbian players pulled a slant-eye gesture while on the court.
The racist gesture happened during the match between Thailand and Serbia for the Volleyball Women’s Nations League 2021 in Rimini, Italy. Serbian player Sanja Djurdevic was talking to her teammate when she pulled the racist gesture.
The incident went viral on social media, with a TikTok video showing that this was not the first time the team made the racist gesture.
In the statement, the federation said Djurdevic “immediately apologized to the whole Thailand team.”
“She only wanted to show her teammates ‘let us start playing defense like them now,’” the statement said, adding “she didn’t mean any disrespect.”
The Volleyball Federation of Serbia asked the public not to “blow this out of proportion,” describing the incident as “unfortunate” and “a simple misunderstanding.”
In the wake of her actions and the calls for her to be penalized, 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 consequently.
The Volleyball Federation of Serbia has asked people not to ‘blow [the situation] out of proportion,’ but racism towards the Asian community remains a sensitive topic in the wake of recent anti-Asian hate crimes in the US and in other parts of the world.