As Manchester City head into their Champions League clash with Sevilla, the charge brought against them by UEFA will once again become a topic of conversation. As time passes the actions of European football’s governing body make less sense. How fans booing UEFA’s song can open a case against the club is mind boggling.
If each component of the incident is broken down it becomes even more indiscernible. The booing against UEFA is nothing new, however it’s the first time a UEFA official has reported the observation. Before getting into the reasons why the Citizens feel aggrieved, there is a moral issue UEFA seem to be overlooking. This shouldn’t be surprising; they have a rich history of having double standards.
To ban booing against a regime, or anything for that matter, is a simple violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 10, Freedom of Expression. It relates to an individual having the right to hold an opinion and impart it without public authorities interfering.
It seems UEFA don’t think the convention applies to them. They make so many laws for their own world they think they are above the ones that we all live by.
The very act of booing is synonymous with a football crowd. It’s always been the way to express disappointment or disagreement. If UEFA finds it so offensive surely it would have been more noble to punish teams whose fans routinely boo national anthems.
This is where football’s overlords have a real problem. They see themselves as a sovereign state. The Champions League anthem is not something that should be saluted or given extra privileges. It’s just a reworking of an old Handel song by an Englishman to help give a soundtrack to UEFA’s marketing machine.
No organisation should ever be above criticism but UEFA don’t seem open to the idea they have made mistakes. You’d think UEFA would be keeping a low profile at the moment to avoid any sort of negative publicity. Their president is currently disgraced and suspended from duty but instead of using common sense they create more drama with this ridiculous charge.
There are two main reasons the City fans dislike UEFA. The first is the one that divides opinion. They feel aggrieved with the club’s treatment surrounding Financial Fair Play (FFP). There’s a sense that UEFA targeted the Manchester club and had an agenda. The punishment was disproportionate and during the examination period City feel the goalposts were moved. They were convinced FFP had been met but UEFA tweaked the interpretation.
Regardless of whether or not you agree with heavy investment, which is commonplace in all other areas of business and only ever driven by market forces, the ethos of FFP was to keep the big clubs at the top and prevent anyone joining them.
In this sense City were, and are, safe. They managed to join the party before UEFA pulled up the drawbridge to keep the paupers outside their holy castle. The loosening of FFP rules has come about because the clubs chasing the bigger teams have realised they’re falling further behind.
The next area of discontent is universal in its agreement. When CSKA Moscow were found guilty of racist behaviour and violence, UEFA closed the stadium to fans during Manchester City’s Champions League visit.
Why City’s fans were punished and refused entry made no sense. It was also frowned upon that UEFA offered no financial compensation for those that had taken out visas and paid for flights and hotel rooms. On the night around 300 CSKA fans made it into the stadium, no action was taken against the club for this violation.
UEFA have a poor record of dealing with racism and continually send mixed messages. They can make as many video promos featuring footballers as they like but racist chants are still commonplace in Champions League fixtures.
Their ignorance of the matter runs all the way to the top. Before Euro 2012 Michel Platini said players had no right to leave the pitch if they were racially abused, that it was a matter for the referee. It’s another example that shows UEFA don’t know how to treat humans fairly.
Rather than taking City’s boos on the chin UEFA have now placed the spotlight firmly back on themselves. They have never looked more removed from reality and it’s pathetic. People have had enough of the corruption that has rotted FIFA to its core and the Big Brother attitude of UEFA.
On Tuesday night in Spain every last Manchester City fan will boo louder than ever. Fans of all clubs should join in until it’s a deafening chorus.