Shameful Serbia should be expelled from World Cup

I was hoping that I had said all I needed to about this World Cup, but unfortunately not.

Serbia should be thrown out of the competition in disgrace after hanging a flag in their dressing room showing an outline of Kosovo filled with the Serbian flag and the words “No surrender” emblazoned across it.

Of course, this is unlikely to happen as FIFA and host nation Qatar don’t exactly have a reputation for doing the right thing.

Tensions have been rising again after the conflict, which came to an end in 1999 thanks to a UN peacekeeping force and NATO operation KFOR which has kept the peace since.

As I have written previously, I was in Kosovo 23 years ago and it was like a scene from a post apocalyptic sci-fi blockbuster.

I saw first hand what Serbian forces had done to Albanian Kosovar civilians. I saw young children, no older that eight years-old, many even younger, with huge dents in their forehead from Serbian rifle butts. I saw the withdrawn, haunted looks on traumatised little girls’ faces who had been subjected to unspeakably evil sexual abuse after fleeing for their lives into the woods around their school when forces invaded across the border 10 minutes away; and while visiting those schools as they were being rebuilt I was told of how Serbian soldiers had appeared one day and gave Muslim families exactly 20 minutes to collect what belongings they could and get out.

Some of the elderly couldn’t move quickly enough and were shot on the road.

Even with peacekeepers in place, the warring groups would bomb each other’s places of worship, usually twice on consecutive days as a sign of defiance, then a couple of days later the other side would do the same thing before disappearing back into their enclave.

The Serbs committed hundreds of war crimes during that time for which military and political leaders have justifiably been tried and convicted.

The actions of the Serbian football squad in Qatar are despicable and anything but expulsion by FIFA will be sanctioning the atrocities of 1998-99.

But as we already know, FIFA has no conscience.

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A referendum that prime minister at the time David Cameron made clear would be a once in a generation vote, then Brexit and now a high court judgement yet wee Jimmy Krankie and her Westminster gimp still think they are fighting the Battle of Culloden.

I love Scotland, but I couldn’t care less about whether it remains or leaves the UK. However, I believe fervently in democracy as an ideal and over the past eight years especially I have seen some politicians take that privilege for granted while others have outright abused it.

Democracy means having to accept the outcome of elections or referendums and abiding by the judgement of law, not to keep having votes endlessly until you get the result you want.

For that reason alone I took a little bit of pleasure from the high court’s decision purely because I knew it was going to infuriate little Nic and not quite so little Ian.

I’m sure the opportunity will arise again in the future – about 25 years or so – and if the vote is to leave, well even though I expect to be long dead I would completely accept it from beyond the grave, but for now that’s it.

Sorry you lost in 1746 (and I’m not talking about just gone a quarter to six). I even accept the English weren’t particularly the good guys in that skirmish, but 276 years is a long time to carry a grudge.

And while we’re at it protesters, throwing eggs at a 74 year-old man or disrespecting his 96 year-old mum’s coffin is so not on.

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Can anyone really begrudge our nurses their decision to strike for the first time in the history of the NHS?

Even driven to this act of desperation, they have promised that emergency services will still be covered on December 15 and 20 with only routine services being affected.

The government has exploited their sense of duty far too often and it’s time they received proper appreciation rather than us standing on our doorsteps and clapping while they go to food banks to feed their families.

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Edward Case

Columnist