Here at Raggedy Ann Girl we rarely talk about sport. But today we are making an exception. For those of you that are football-phobes, please forgive me. Because this is not really about football. It goes way beyond the boundaries of sport. And casts another very ugly shadow on humanity. If you've switched on the news, or opened a newspaper, in the last few hours, you'll know what I'm talking about. Yes, racism has again reared its very ugly head. 

The scenes on Tuesday night during and after England U-21's play-off match in Serbia are some of the worst I have ever seen. All of the 'Young Lions' were subjected to the jeering and hurling of insults. But, of course, it was our black players that bore the brunt. From kick-off to final whistle they were tormented by a local crowd of thugs making 'monkey' chants. They were taunted with insults both verbal and visual. And, along with the rest of their teammates had to dodge missiles of all sorts from stones and pieces of rock to cigarette lighters, coins and even, on one occasion, a seat. And at the end, all the video evidence I've seen suggests that, some of the players and staff of the Serbian national side joined their more mindless fans in insulting, pursuing and assaulting the England players.

Now UEFA, like FIFA - the world governing body of the sport – make a lot of noise about this sort of thing. Football's 'powers-that-be' come up with all kinds of initiatives that are supposed to make players, officials and fans treat each other with respect and without prejudice. Clearly it's not enough. No amount of branding, of putting up billboards, of making players wear armbands or badges or shaking hands is going to persuade the ignoramuses amongst us that they are in the wrong.

When the referee – the one person actually on the pitch who represents authority – allows things to go unpunished. When he tells off a goalkeeper for time wasting when all he was doing was showing the ref the piece of masonry that was just hurled at him from the crowd. When this happens, you know all  hope is lost.

After the final whistle, when things really kicked off, the ref did take some decisive action. He send off England's Danny Rose for kicking away the ball. Since the match was over, it could hardly be considered 'time wasting', so must have been for showing dissent. And yes, England's young black full-back did show some dissent. Should we be horrified? Or even surprised? He'd been taunted by 'monkey' noises for more than an hour. He'd dodged insults and missiles and, right at the end, when he showed just a bit of joy at his country's victory, he was he was  pursued, pushed, shoved and, according to his own testimony, 'slapped' by opposition fans, players and officials. Do you know what?  I think I'd show a bit of dissent under those circumstances. I'd probably want to knock somebody's lights out. But Danny Rose didn't do that. No, he took himself away from his pursuers and vented his frustration on the only thing that couldn't be harmed – a disused football. And for that he was given a second yellow card, an effective sending off and will miss the first game of the tournament for which his team had just qualified.

The melee that followed was ugly. With Serbia's contingent piling in on England's. The British press is full of damning images of various Serbian representatives dragging, thumping, kicking and even head-butting their opponents. The fact that the Serbian papers feature none of the England people doing the same, tells me it was pretty one-sided. It might not all have been about racism, but it was certainly about hate. Some of it was, perhaps, about being sore losers. But whatever, someone – and by this I mean UEFA – needs to do something. 

The problem is that few football people have much faith in either UEFA's ability or commitment to deal with what is, quite clearly, a serious problem. While there'll always be a small proportion of idiots at football matches, just as there are idiots in shopping centres, in city centre pubs and even in garden centres, it's pretty widely accepted that it's a greater problem, common even, in certain Eastern European countries. Anyone expecting the family-friendly U-21 ties that we're used to at home, would have been horrified. In fact, it seems it was pretty much the last place you'd want to take any child or, quite frankly, anyone of a civilised nature. 

There have been plenty of previous occasions when black players, playing in Serbia (and other countries in the region) have been subjected to racist abuse. I'm not sure it's ever culminated in quite such ugly scenes. But it won't be the last. Particularly if those powers-that-be don't take decisive action. 

The simple truth is that UEFA have to do something about the vile idiots who choose to punish a man for the simple  'crime' of playing football while black. It's all very well having fancy slogans plastered around the place, making players wear badges, and shake hands. But what's the point if you're not prepared to do anything to punish offenders? Now, in the unlikely event that anyone representing UEFA were to read this, they would probably tell me that they have taken action against the racists. And yes, I suppose they have. The last time England played Serbia (in the European Championships in Holland in 2007) the latter's association were fined the paltry figure of £16,500 for its fans' racial abuse of Nedum Onuoha. The same organisation, however, chose to fine a single player £80,000 for celebrating a goal by lifting up his shirt to reveal a sponsored vest. How is anyone supposed to take them seriously?

It's clear that this wrist-slapping, knuckle-rapping, warning-issuing approach isn't working. And neither is  the advertising campaign. Yes, education is important, but so is punishment. It's time UEFA began to take the rights of the players, officials and, yes, fans into consideration. The right to be treated fairly and with respect. The right to be safe from physical and verbal assault and the right to expect to be protected from being on the receiving end of the abuse, and from having to witness it. It's time UEFA started hitting those associations – who refuse to make serious changes – where it hurts. To ban them from competitions and to prevent them from hosting home matches.

It's time UEFA did something.