Friday, March 17, 2006
Fifa to score another own goal?
Still a long way to go
Fifa, football's international governing body, has announced that it plans to introduce tough new laws to punish clubs where fans are guilty of racist abuse. Well about time. Whilst not up to the levels of its salad years of the 1970s, racism is still evident in football.
The most high-level incidents of racism have centred around Samuel Eto'o and Marc Zoro. Both were racially abused by opposing fans. Eto'o was taunted by Real Zaragoza. Not once, but twice. The first time around Zaragoza were fined a paltry 600 Euros (£400), for this season's offering Zaragoza were given a 9000 Euro fine (£6,000). An absolute scandal. Ivory Coast international Zoro was harangued during Siena's match with Inter Milan and he was to leave the pitch before being convinced to stay on.
Spanish 'fans' booed and made monkey noises at England international trio Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips, in response World governing body FIFA imposed a paltry £44,750 fine on the Spanish FA for the abuse, a punishment which attracted widespread criticism.
Spain serves as an interesting example and their manager certainly leads from the front. The Spanish coach Luis Aragonés escaped without censure after he was recorded telling winger Juan Antonio Reyes that his Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry was "a black shit". Aragonés sought to defend himself diplomatically by telling Spanish newspaper El Mundo: "Reyes is ethnically a gypsy. I have got a lot of gypsy and black friends. All I did was to motivate the gypsy by telling him he was better than the black." And this guy is not fined? Or sacked?
Other incidents in recent memory include Real Madrid being fined for racist chanting and Nazi salutes against Bayer Leverkusen in November 2004 and in the same month Sparta Prague getting punished for monkey chants against Lyon in the Champions League. And, of course, Paolo Di Canio twice doing Nazi salutes to his team's fans claiming it not to be racist but fascist. Oh well that's ok then.
The horse has already bolted and I hope this measure by the EU does stem the tide. It is the 21st century and people still think it fine to racially abuse footballers. The initiatives will see new penalties imposed ranging from match suspensions to point deductions, and even, for repeated offenses, relegation.
The tougher the measures the better. Ron Atkinson was fired for calling Marcel Desailly "a f*cking lazy nigger". In his defence he didn't know it was being recorded. Jeez Ron, you used to manage the Owls so I got a big soft spot but you can not say stuff like this. At least the punishment fitted the crime instead of what some of our European comrades seem to be doing by burying their head in the sand. But then with Sepp Blatter at the helm I am sure something will go wrong.
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