UEFA have done it again. They have failed to make an example of those that are polluting our beautiful game with racist, bigoted behaviour. But what did we expect?
In an age when the game’s governing body sees displaying sponsored boxer shorts as a worse crime than abusing another human being for the colour of their skin, is it any wonder that it is now almost on a weekly basis when a fan is arrested for racist behaviour?
UEFA’s decision to fine Serbia £65,900, £15,000 less than Nicklas Bendtner paid for displaying Paddy Power underwear at Euro 2012, and ordered them to play one U21 game behind close doors has been met with outrage throughout the sport. However, the decision to ban England‘s Tom Ince and Steven Caulker after the scenes in Serbia in October proves UEFA clearly are out of touch with what is wrong with football and the people it is attracting.
It was clear just by watching the scenes unfold on TV that the England players were acting in defence and that Danny Rose’s behaviour was as a result of being the victim of monkey chants from the Serbian supports, which is something he indicated as he walked off the pitch after being sent off for showing his anger at the abuse he received.
But still two England players have been handed one and two match bans, while Rose’s red card still stands, meaning all three players will miss games at next year’s U21 European Championships. We will probably never know how and why UEFA came to this decision, but what we do know is that there clearly isn’t a punishment structure in place to deal with these problems. Every incident seems to be treated with a completely clean slate and UEFA are doing themselves no favours by dishing out varying and contradictory sanctions for what are exactly the same crimes.
The FA are doing what they can to eradicate racism from the game, despite a few early hiccups, but with the continent’s governing body failing to follow suit, the message that racism in football will not be tolerated still fails to hit home to some people.
The worrying thing about it is that over the years UEFA have regularly failed to suitably punish the perpetrators and the latest incident shows they have no intention of improving and, if anything, they intend to become more lenient.
After everything the FA has had to deal with over the past two years, what with players and fans being convicted for racist behaviour, this was the perfect chance for UEFA to put their foot down and show the FA, Europe and the world that football will not tolerate racism and those responsible will be severely punished. Sadly, that isn’t the case and we still feel as we aren’t any closer to kicking racism out of football.
Serbia’s fans have a reputation of being racist and they’ll see this punishment as something of a let off and will no doubt seek their next opportunity to bait their next opposition’s black players. One game behind closed doors is not going to deter the bigots from continuing their tirade against black players.
A ban from the next qualifying campaign from a major tournament would have gone so far in showing UEFA are no longer a soft touch, while a ban from playing any matches – friendly or competitive, is what might have brought the Serbians crashing back down to earth.
One thing England can be proud of is that they have conducted themselves in the best way they possibly can. The players on the night were a credit to this country, only reacting in any normal human being would after such an experience, while the coaching staff did their best in protecting their players, some being victimised as well in the process.
At the end of the day, we let our football do the talking that night and we came out on tops. We’re going to the European Championships next year while the Serbs stay at home, probably making a list of the next black player to abuse.
It’s just a shame UEFA don’t see it that way and next time, because there will be a next time, we can be sure that it’ll be yet another lenient outcome that has us all wondering what good can ever come out of football. With UEFA seemingly not interested in stamping their authority on football, we will never get any closer to ridding the game of bigots.
I feel for the players and the countries/clubs who will no doubt experience what have in the future because there us no justice and, on this evidence, there probably never will be.
Do you feel UEFA are failing the sport by not making an example of Serbia following their racist behaviour towards England players back in October. Leave your thoughts below.