Serbian volleyball player Sanja Djurdjevic has been banned for two games after being captured on camera narrowing her eyes with her fingers in response to an opposition player.
The incident happened on June 1 during a FIVB Volleyball Women’s Nationals League match in which Serbia were playing Thailand. She made the gesture after one of the opposition players failed to win a point.
The Serbian federation were also fined $22,392. The ban means she will miss upcoming games against Belgium and Canada.
Djurdjevic apologised in a post on Instagram for her actions but subsequently deleted her account.
“I am aware of my mistake and I immediately after the match apologized to the whole Thailand team,” Djurdjevic said, according to Vice News. “I only wanted to address my teammates with the message: ‘Now, we will start playing defense like them,’ I didn’t mean to disrespect anyone.
“Of course, it was unfortunate and not so smart gesture from my side.
“Big thanks to the Thailand team for understanding.”
The player supposedly the target of the gesture, Pleumjit Thinkaow, posted a message of forgiveness towards Djurdjevic on Instagram.
“We are deeply saddened by the recent events that took place,” the Serbian federation said in a statement on Facebook.
“We apologize sincerely to the Thailand team, people of Thailand and to all of you affected by this.
“But, please, don’t blow this out of proportion! Sanja is aware of her mistake and she immediately apologized to the whole Thailand team.
“It all ended up as a simple misunderstanding, in a friendly atmosphere between the players of the two teams.”
The Serbian team have previously been caught using this gesture. In 2017, a picture of the team showed them narrowing their eyes with their fingers after they qualified for the 2018 FIVB Women’s World Championship in Japan.
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