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Soccer player suspended for not singing anthem

(AP) BELGRADE, Serbia - Midfielder Adem Ljajic has been suspended from the Serbian national team for failing to sing the national anthem before a friendly against Spain, Serbia's football association said.

It said in a statement that Serbia's new coach Sinisa Mihajlovic "sent Ljajic home" because he did not comply with one of his rules that stipulates players have to sing the anthem before all international matches.

Ljajic, who is a Muslim unlike most of the Serbian team players who are Christian Orthodox, did not sing the anthem "because of his personal reasons," the statement said.

"The coach had a meeting with Ljajic," the statement said. "After getting the information that because of his personal reasons he did not sing the anthem, Sinisa Mihajlovic told the player to return home."

Serbia lost 2-0 against Spain in St. Gallen, Switzerland, on Saturday. Serbia, which did not qualify for the European Championship, is to play France in another friendly match later this week.

The association said that when the 20-year-old Ljajic changes his "personal stand," he will be allowed back into the squad.

"If I don't respect myself, no one will respect me," Ljajic said upon his return to Belgrade on Monday.

Ljajic was involved in an incident earlier this month with his former Fiorentina coach Delio Rossi who slapped him as he returned to the bench after being substituted in a Serie A game. Ljajic had stuck his thumb up ironically. Rossi was fired and Ljajic suspended after the incident.

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