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Serbia’s volleyball federation apologized to Thai players last night for a racist gesture made on the court but urged Thais not to “blow this out of proportion.” 

The Volleyball Federation of Serbia apologized to Thailand’s team and fans after Serbian player Sanja Djurdevic drew two fingers to the side of her face to make the “slanty eyes” gesture – on television – to mock a Thai player’s failure to score a point.

The Serbian federation said Djurdevic’s was remorseful for her “unfortunate gesture” but “didn’t mean any disrespect.” The apology 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. “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.”

“It all ended up as a simple misunderstanding, in a friendly atmosphere between the players of the two teams,” it added. 

Thai player Pleumjit Thinkaow, who was the object of Djurdevic’s gesture, posted a video with Djurdevic and said she had accepted the Serbian’s apology. 

“Everyone. [Djurdevic] walked to our room. She said she was so stressed. She said she didn’t have the intention [to offend us]. Please forgive her,” Pleumjit wrote in Thai.

Some viewers called out Djurdevic’s behavior as “unacceptable” and asked the international volleyball competition to sanction her.

“Dear @volleyballworld This behavior from a Serbian player is unacceptable. Racism has no place in volleyball world. It’s 2021 fgs,” @MiiPiiR tweeted.

Thailand came out 0-3 in three matches against Serbia held in Rimini as part of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League, which kicked off Friday.

Today, Team Thailand faces the USA at 5pm (BKK Time). The matches will be shown live on Channel 3.

A number of people discussing the incident online used the hashtag #StopAsianHate in reference to pandemic-era violence and discrimination against Asians, particularly Asian-Americans. The movement began to gain traction in February after the murder of an elderly Thai man, Vicha Ratanapakdee, in San Francisco.

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This article, Serbia doesn’t want racist taunt of Thai player blown ‘out of proportion’, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.


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