Serbian star Ljajic kicked off team for not singing anthem
Muslim footballer banished from squad by nationalist manager after refusing to sing
LUCKY for England's footballers that the FA are not as strict as their Serbian counterparts when it comes to attitudes towards the national anthem. When England play the team often resembles a line of Easter Island statues staring dolefully into space as God Save The Queen blares out in the stadium.
That would not be tolerated under the regime of Serbian manager Sinisa Mihajlovic, who has banished Fiorentina midfielder Adem Ljajic from his squad for not singing the anthem before the team's game against Spain at the weekend.
The Serbian Football Federation released a statement saying that Ljajic, who is a Muslim, refused to sing the anthem for "personal reasons" and was told to leave as a result.
It added, rather ominously: "The door has not been closed forever on the national team but he needs to change his attitude and officially notify Mihajlovic that he has done so. Then when his form merits it, he can return."
Football website Who Ate All the Pies described former Sampdoria and Lazio star Mihajlovic, who took over as national boss this month, as "a renowned Serbian nationalist with rather questionable politics".
Another sports site, Here Is The City, comments: "Singing the national anthem looks good on television and everything, but it hardly matters once the game kicks-off does it?
"If the rule had been in place for England, Wayne Rooney would have been banned a long time ago."
It's not been a great few weeks for Ljajic, who was physically attacked by his other boss, Fiorentina manager Delio Rossi, during a game at the start of the month.
When Ljajic was substituted, he gave a sarcastic thumbs up to the manager, who reacted by repeatedly punching the 20-year-old midfielder in the face (video below). Rossi was sacked as a result.
Perhaps Ljajic may be regretting the fact that his proposed move to Manchester United never materialised. In January 2009 United announced that they would officially sign the young Serb in 2010, but the deal collapsed and he moved, instead, to Italy.