Most fans, during the course of their lifetime, have had cause for complaint when it comes to feeling victimised by the powers that be. Whether it is the media, the FA, referees, or some other authoritative body: most fans, teams and managers have tried to argue that they’re getting the short end of the deal.
So as we reflect on Wayne Rooney’s undoubtedly rash actions against Montenegro, is there any evidence to suggest that his subsequent three-match ban is in any way an example of how UEFA are uniquely punitive when it comes to England?
Whilst Michel Platini may not have been part of the committee that decided Rooney’s fate last week his influence within UEFA is significant enough for some to believe that he could have played a role in any decision made. If we couple this with his comments from 2008 about English teams financially cheating in European football then we can already hear the conspirators among us accusing UEFA and its president of Anglophobia.
And it is true to an extent that Platini is not English football’s biggest fan. His comments about our clubs in the past have been abrasive at best and I’m sure many will remember the enormous smile on his face as Chelsea were knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona in 2009.
However, can we really suggest that these are English specific qualities that Platini resents? Are they not merely universal problems that exist within football and most of us complain about anyway? Who, apart from Manchester City fans, is pleased to have a club who can outbid every other on the planet? Not me.
And so whilst Platini’s attacks on English clubs have been hard to take would we react as unsympathetically towards them if an English head of UEFA touted them? Or are we simply unhappy that someone has dared to criticise ‘the best league in the world’?
I am afraid this is rather the point too. Nobody likes criticism, least of all people who already feel as though their neighbours dislike them (as we do in the football). And, whilst Platini definitely has his moments as an insufferably arrogant man he does make a fair point. Financial domination is cheating. Many will disagree with Platini, insisting that he appears too eager to put England down, but as the man himself says says: ‘he’s just doing his job’.
The vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups also left a bitter taste in the mouth of English football fans. The suspected corruption within FIFA has grown in to a worldwide mistrust of the organisation and several nations, including England, feel as though they have been let down. England had arguably the best bid; the infrastructure and stadiums on offer were second to none and the World Cup would have been the most profitable were it to be held in the UK. This too has fuelled the suspicions of many that England is often held at a disadvantage.
Ultimately there is no real proof of any anti-English agenda and we must face up to the fact the Wayne Rooney was punished for his actions within the means of the law. There may be a debate as to whether the ban would have occurred for a striker from another country but it has happened before to other players such as Arshavin in 2008 and Vidic in 2006. At the end of the day Rooney knew the potential outcome and he has been dealt with accordingly.
Yes, it may seem unfair, but we must accept it with grace. If we don’t then we run the risk of sounding like a plethora of bitter robots. Unable to accept accountability for our actions, constantly complaining and making ourselves even fewer friends in the process.
England’s faults and failures are a result of nobody’s doing but our own. The suspect behaviour of UEFA and FIFA may or may not be a figment of our imagination. But, in the end, even though Rooney’s suspension will continue to consume England fans’ predictions for our performance this summer we must remain aware that when the Euros arrive England’s attitude and inherent sense of entitlement to success (perpetrated by media and fans alike) will be the real enemy, not UEFA.
Written by Hamish Mackay