It’s about time UEFA stepped in to sort out acts of racism witnessed at the ongoing European Championships. Referees were never going to do it. Let’s face it, they’re just too scared to punish a team and consequently get abused because of the decision. The powers in football must act.
Those “thugs,” believed to be Spanish, who verbally abused Mario Balotelli during the Spain-Italy match on Sunday with their monkey chants must be detected and issued the highest possible fine. It’s not surprising the Ghanaian descent Italian was targeted, considering his history of racial abuse on the pitch.
The investigation will also examine another racist chant aimed at Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie during the Czechs defeat to Russia on June 8.
What makes the Italian’s case truly astonishing is how coach Cesare Prandelli claims the racial accusations were “absolutely untrue.” Surely he would’ve been close enough to the incident to recognize the monkey chants?
The enigmatic Balotelli, a target of the recent outburst, once said: “I would straight away leave the pitch and go home [if racially abused].”
So why didn’t he? Unpredictable as he might be, football is his passion.
Meanwhile, members of the Netherlands squad were subjected to monkey chants by Polish fans, even before the first game of the tournament commenced.
Retired Netherlands international Ruud Gullit quoted: “The monkey sounds that greeted the Holland team at their training session this week were an embarrassment to the Polish authorities.”
To some extent, the Polish authorities should have a say in this. After all, aren’t they supposed to be on duty at these stadiums in case of disorder? Evidence showed otherwise when a group of Russian supporters violently attacked stewards after the match with the Czech Republic. The company in charge of coordinating the tournament explains “such things can occur over the next 22 days. If it gets hot, drinks will be consumed and such things can happen. It’s a normal situation.”
On the contrary, this is no normal situation. The footballing world is renowned for the drinks consumed before and after matches, so the Polish authorities should be well prepared with some sort of perspective and initiative.
The disgust doesn’t stop there though. UEFA president Michel Platini has done nothing to support those affected by racism. He claims that referees will stop the match if players are subject to racist chants, which hasn’t happened, and the players can be booked if they decide to walk off to protest the insults aimed at them.
No player has been strong enough to oppose this decision but I urge them to do so. Why should an abused player continue to be vulnerable? Why should they accept such vulgar remarks? They need to take a stand immediately if another incident is branded front-page news.
It’s also surfaced that Balotelli’s agent, Mino Raiola, blasted Platini for his weak stance on the subject and then claimed the FA was “very proactive.”
I, for one, totally agree. We all know what happens in England when someone is caught red-handed for racial abuse. They are immediately reprimanded and dealt with.
Just ask Chelsea skipper John Terry and Liverpool forward Luis Suarez, who play in the English Premier League managed by the FA. Both are, or have been, in the center of racism rows in the past year and have suffered mentally.
Suarez was given a hefty eight match ban for calling Manchester United’s Patrice Evra “negro” and, when returning from his punishment, was never the prolific striker the league had come to terms with. Terry, on the other hand, decided it was ‘cool’ to demoralize his international teammate’s brother, Anton Ferdinand. He ultimately lost the England captaincy and is due to stand trial in July 2012. The most incredible thing: he entered a not guilty plea even though there is alleged footage of the racist act. At least Suarez admitted to his actions and hopefully won’t do it again.
Shouldn’t Western European countries aspire to have an effective system like the FA? The majority of racist claims in the sport circulates in the region and will continue to until a strong stance is upheld.
There is no room in the sport for such offensive and derogative manners. End of.