Serbian volleyball player Sanja Djurdjevic has been suspended for two international games after she made a racist gesture during a match against Thailand.
The Volleyball Federation of Serbia was also hit with a fine of 20,000 Swiss Francs (around £16,000) by the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball’s disciplinary panel after Djurdjevic stretched her eyelids apart in a slant-eyed gesture during an FIVB Volleyball Women’s Nationals League clash.
Djurdjevic will miss her national team’s upcoming games against Belgium and Canada.
The fine will be donated “to a cause dedicated to tackling discriminatory behaviour and/or to fund educational programs on cultural sensitivity for the global Volleyball Family,” the FIVB said in a statement released online this week.
“The FIVB is committed to fostering understanding, solidarity and unity against all forms of discriminatory behaviour,” the organisation added. “The FIVB will continue to work tirelessly with all of its National Federations to ensure that these values are reflected across the whole community.”
Djurdjevic has since apologised for the offensive gesture, which she described as “unfortunate and not so smart.”
“I am aware of my mistake and I immediately after the match apologised to the whole Thailand team,” she wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post. “I only wanted to address my teammates with the message: ‘now, we will start playing defence like them’, I didn’t mean to disrespect anyone.”
The incident comes four years after the Serbian team celebrated qualification to the 2018 FIVB Women’s World Championship in Japan in a similarly offensive way.