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If the FA were serious about racism and violence this is what they would do.

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By Tony Attwood

Senegal have been disqualified from the Africa Cup of Nations 2013 after a crowd riot ended the play off against the Ivory Coast.  According to reports  stones, bottles and fireworks were thrown on to the pitch and tear gas was used against the crowd.

The fact that as a result Gervinho will be missing from Arsenal early next year is trivial and unimportant compared to the violence, and the disqualification seems justified – at least looking in from another continent.

Clubs and countries have to keep their supporters safe and controlled, and failure to do so is a serious matter.

But clubs and countries also have to ensure that players and fans are not abused through racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic chanting and this they fail to do.  They fail in Europe, and sadly on occasions they fail here.

I have written so many times about the abject failure of the League, the club officials of Tottenham and Portsmouth, and the police, to deal with the homophobic events at a Portsmouth v Tottenham game, that I really can’t go through the details again.   But I continue to make the point: we are not pure in the UK.

By this I don’t mean just that we still have racists, homophobes, anti-Semites etc etc, I mean that we still don’t have the will to deal with such matters.

And perhaps the biggest failing of all is that the football authorities and clubs in the UK continue to deal with Fifa and Uefa who themselves utterly fail to deal with the problem.

Being an Arsenal fan I don’t like Ashley Cole, but that does not stop me believing that he has an absolute right to expect those who perpetrate racism against him to be punished, and for action to be taken to stop it again.  Fining Slovakia £18k in 2002 for such incidents showed Uefa was just going through the motions.

Ditto Macedonia in 2003 – a £16.5k fine.   Alan Green (of whom I do not always have good things to say) said he could identify some of the people who were involved in the abuse.   Uefa did not take up his offer.  I have often wondered whether Mr Green really did send in his information to Uefa.

So we go on.  £16.5k fine to Serbia in 2007, £10k to Croatia in 2008, and a sudden upturn to £34k against Bulgaria in 2011, while Rangers got £35k for sectarianism chanting last year, but Uefa went back down to £16k against Porto this year.

Russia and Spain (a country that in part at least is in denial about racism as I reported yesterday) were fined around £20k each in June.

When we compare this with Mr Wenger being given a 3 match ban and a £33k find for confronting the ref in the Milan match, it looks stupid.  Man City got £24k fine for coming out late for the second half – and right at the top of the league Nic Bendtner got an £80k fine for “unauthorised sponsorship” – which of course reminds us of how Fifa officials got a bunch of ladies locked up in a South African jail for the same offence.

Now Danny Rose has been sent off for goodness knows what after being abused through a match – and we expect another £20k fine.

The FA says: “The FA condemns both the scenes of racism and the confrontation at the final whistle during which time our players and staff were under extreme provocation. The FA has reported a number of incidents of racism to Uefa following the fixture. These were seemingly aimed at a number of England black players by the crowd. The matter is now with Uefa.”

At least in England we are trying to get to grips with the issue, although not always comfortably.  But Luis Suárez-Patrice Evra and John Terry have been dealt with.  Meanwhile Sepp Blatter says that racist remarks and gestures during a game could be dealt with at the end by the players shaking hands.  Our approach and his could not be further apart.

Personally, I think it is time for the clubs of this country, the Premier League and the FA to act.   They should write to Uefa and Fifa and give notice that unless they take serious and clear action to stop racism, homophobic chanting and other unacceptable behaviour then England will resign from Fifa, and the Premier League clubs will pull out of Uefa competition.

Would such a threat be taken seriously?  I suspect not – at first – but that once the clubs did it, there would be perhaps one season without England in European and World football, and then action would follow.

Yes, we would sacrifice a season – maybe two – but let us not forget that after Liverpool fans rioted in the Heysel Stadium disaster of 1985 all English clubs were banned until 1990 from all European club competitions.

Of course you can argue that many people died that day in Belgium, and that no one has died as a result of racist chanting (although many have died because of what follows).   And yes there is a scale of things – but racism, homophobia and related behaviour must be tackled in a civilised society, and if Uefa and Fifa won’t act, then we must.

Where is the resistance to Uefa and Fifa?

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13 comments to If the FA were serious about racism and violence this is what they would do.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree with a lot of this, still think players should have the right to leave the field under sustained racial abuse.
    Horrific scenes last night, from fans , players, officials -(perhaps with the honourable exceptions of a couple of Serbian players who at least appeared to be trying to console Rose)
    But the sad fact is, FIFA/EUFA are more likely to give Serbia a major competition than a ban. There is clearly no will to take on racism in the upper echelons of football – no money or votes in it, quite the opposite in fact.

  • Chris

    The FA should shut up and not point fingers at anyone when it comes to racism. How long did it take them to solve the John Terry saga? what punishment was given? Is £220 000 anything when it comes to a multimillionaire like Terry? Point a finger at someone and four are pointing at you asking you the question are you not being a hypocrite? Charity begins at home, the fa should clean up their act and stop being cry babies.

  • Roughchops

    Only a ban will work. 3 years would make them miss the next World and European championships. Fining them a few thousand Euros is a joke.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Racism and homophobia are forms of bullying. I hate bullies and have little time for those who turn a deaf ear to the pleas of the victims.

    Given the autocratic and heavy handed manner in which FIFA and UEFA conduct their affairs, one must draw the conclusion that if this really was an affair of importance to them, then they would stamp it out with great vigour.

  • Adam

    The problem i see is that UEFA are not a governing body where as FIFA are. We should see UEFA Removing clubs and countries from its competitions and FIFA handing out huge fines and expelling a countries association for a period of time, they have that power. Im not sure England throwing itself on its sword is the answer. I dont think the rest of Europe would care if we pulled out of any compititions? The issue for me is getting FIFA to act.

  • hottspring

    in Europe there are many human rights groups ready to condemn governments & institutions from other continents. racism kills it motivated the second world war through nazism. remember apartheid in SA

  • Adam

    IV Responsibilities
    Article 4
    Responsibilities of the participating associations
    4.01 The associations are responsible for the behaviour of their players, officials,
    members, supporters and any person carrying out a function at a match on
    their behalf.
    4.02 The association in the territory of which a qualifying match or the final
    tournament is being staged is considered the host association.
    4.03 The host association is responsible for order and security before, during and
    after the match. The host association may be called to account for incidents
    of any kind and may be disciplined.
    4.04 Matches must, in principle, be played in a stadium within the territory of the
    host association. Exceptionally, matches may be played in the territory of
    another UEFA member association, if so decided by the UEFA administration
    and/or the UEFA disciplinary bodies, for reasons of safety or as a result of a
    disciplinary measure.

    Taken from UEFA rules of U21 tornament 2011/13

  • Adam

    Behaviour of the crowd
    − maximum 5 points
    − minimum 1 point
    The crowd is considered to be a natural component of a football game. The
    support of the fans may contribute to the success of their team. The crowd is
    not expected to watch the game in silence. Encouragement of teams by
    shouting, singing, etc. may have a positive influence on the atmosphere, in
    accordance with the spirit of fair play.
    The spectators are, however, expected to respect the opposing team and the
    referee. They should appreciate the performance of the opposition, even if
    they emerge as the winners. They must in no way intimidate or frighten the
    opposing team, the referee or opposing supporters.
    A maximum number of points (5) should not be awarded unless all these
    requirements are satisfied, especially with respect to the creation of a
    positive atmosphere.
    This item is applicable only if a substantial number of fans of the team
    concerned are present. If the number of fans is negligible, ‘N/A’ (not
    applicable) should be recorded under this entry.

    Taken from UEFA rules of U21 tornament 2011/13

  • Mandy Dodd

    Think EUFA make up their rules as they go along!

  • Domhuail MacMathghamhna

    Is there anywhere in the universe, in any situation or environment where racism, homophobia, bullying or similar behaviour should be tolerated or accepted? Remember the golden rule: treat others as you’d want them to treat you….that applies to football as well.

  • nicky

    I can’t see the value of England acting unilaterally. There must be other influential countries of like mind about racism, so that a more powerful joint approach can be made to FIFA, with the same threat of seceding from the Association.
    When I think of the millions who died during WW2 as a direct result of racism, our world has sadly learnt very little since the carnage of that era.

  • Matt Clarke

    Thanks, Tony, for highlighling this issue and for the link to the Telegraph letter: both interesting reads.

    For UEFA to do anything less than ban Serbia outright will be scandalous.

    The challenge to Platini at the end (of the Telegraph letter) reminds me Billy Bragg singing,

    “Which side are you on boys, which side are you on?”

    I understand that this originated from a different type of struggle (workers’ rights) but all the football governing bodies need to make it clear which side they are on. NOW.