Now I’m certainly not going to start defending Chelsea’s players or the reactions of certain fans after the final whistle back on May 6th. Yes, the referee had a nightmare, yes Chelsea should have had two penalties at least and yes to some people it was easy to understand the reactions of some of the players after Tom Henning Ovrebo’s performance that night.It doesn’t excuse the behaviour of the players and fans after the game at all.
What I am astounded at is UEFA fining Chelsea £85,000 for failure to control their players and fans. Not because I disagree with it, but because UEFA continually ignore the issue of racism at football matches and issue a stream of pathetic, pointless little fines to teams who allow they’re fans to pollute football with their backward mentality towards non-white players. When you look at Chelsea’s punishment and then consider it in the scheme of failure to control players and fans, you’ll see what I mean.
In UEFA’s little world, racism isn’t an issue that warrants serious attention. They pretend it doesn’t happen and we’re all one big happy footballing family. Two years ago, England Under 21’s were fined £2000 for failure to control thier players after taking exception to Serbia’s players and fans who had racially abused the black members of the England Under 21 team throughout and after their European Championship match in 2007. Serbia were fined £16,500 and allowed to continue in the competition. This is UEFA’s zero tolerance approach to racism, paltry fines and allowing racist idiots to continue to perform.
In 2004, England’s black players were heckled throughout the 90 minutes of a “friendly” against Spain in Madrid at the Bernabeu Stadium. The Spanish FA were fined the crippling amount of £44,500 from a game that generated 4 million pounds. 1% of the revenue that match created for the Spanish F.A . Once again, UEFA showed zero tolerance. That’ll show them won’t it?
Of course some Croatia fans infamously formed a human swastika in 2006 during a game against Italy but were only fined £10,000 even though it was the third racist incident by their fans in 4 years. Once again, UEFA showed zero tolerance.
It astounds me that the UEFA continue to punish clubs and players so leniently and then wonder why incidents still happen in certain countries. When a club receives a bigger fine for showing petulance and anger towards a match official than teams that unfurl racist, anti-muslim or anti-semitic slogans and banners at games then it shows how scared to tackle the issue they really are.
Of course Chelsea didn’t do themselves any favours by their behaviour that night, but does it justify a fine of such a value when compared to far more unsavoury incidents? For UEFA to punish Chelsea so sternly in comparison is an easy decision by UEFA. It’s an easy way out for them as it was so widely publicised around the world but in the scheme of football what causes the game more damage? Racist morons or emotionally charged football fans?
Drogba though is rather lucky in my opinion to have only received a 4 game ban from European competition; though he does have the threat of a further two games that have been suspended if he oversteps the mark again. Boswinga, who rightly apologised after calling the referee a cheat in the Portuguese media, strangely received a 3 match ban. He withdrew his comments as quickly as he had made them and even rang Overbo to apologise, so can feel harshly done by in comparison to Drogba. Michael Ballack meanwhile is quite possibly the luckiest player at Stamford Bridge, as he’s got away scot free for his body checking and pulling of the referee. Perhaps they were impressed with his star jumps?
In UEFA’s mind, swearing at a referee or calling him a cheat is a worse offence than racially abusing someone and that for me is a sad indictment of the governing bodies attitude to the fight against racism in football. Until they get their priorities right and throw teams out of competitions or hit them with seven figure fines, the racists will continue to abuse and divide. Now that is the real disgrace about Chelsea’s fine.