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Volleyball Player Sits Out After Gesture Toward Thai Team

Serbian player and foundation apologize
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2021 4:40 PM CDT

(Newser) – A player on Serbia's national women's volleyball team will sit out her next two matches after making a racist gesture last week when playing Thailand. Sanja Djurdjevic will sit out when her team takes on Belgium and Canada as it prepares for the Tokyo Olympics, the BBC reports. In addition, the Volleyball Federation of Serbia was fined more than $22,000 by FIVB Volleyball, which found that Djurdjevic violated its regulations when she used her fingers to narrow her eyes during the match in Italy on June 1. The money will go toward combating discriminatory behavior and increasing "cultural sensitivity for the global Volleyball Family," FIVB announced in apologizing for Djurdjevic's action. The organization will not allow an appeal.

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Djurdjevic reportedly apologized on Instagram before setting her account to private. The federation put its apology on Facebook, saying it was saddened while calling the player's action "a simple misunderstanding," per the South China Morning Post. "But, please, don't blow this out of proportion!" the post said. "Sanja is aware of her mistake and she immediately apologized to the whole Thailand team." The Serbian team, which is ranked eighth in the world, will be in a group with the Japan and South Korea teams when it starts play in the Olympics. In 2017, per ESPN, the entire Serbian team made the same gesture for cameras when playing in Japan. (Read more racism stories.)

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