British newspapers find fault with Uefa, but have no new suggestions on how to move on.

By Tony Attwood

“FA anti-racist action plan is just an insult” roars the Independent.   “Uefa’s cowardly reaction against Serbian racists takes European game several steps backwards,” screams the Sunday Telegraph.  “Blatter to discuss Serbia’s racism fine with Michel Platini” says the Guardian.

Everyone is getting exercised about racial abuse – each in their own way – with the latest man in the hot seat being Manchester City’s Kolarov, who apparently had a row with a man waving an Albanian flag.

A few years back I went to Serbia, and one thing that struck me was that a lot of the celebratory dates in their calendar were dates of defeats as they tried and tried again to create greater Serbia. But, I have to say, Britain does that too (celebrate defeats, not create a greater Serbia I mean).  Our most famous date – the one every child in Britain knows – is the date when the Normans moved in to wipe out the Anglo Saxons, and took over the country (the Anglo Saxons having previously almost wiped out the native Britons – those were the guys with the druids etc etc).   Many (according to a recent survey) are a little unsure of the year in which the second world war ended, or the meaning of VE Day and VJ Day, but ask about the Battle of Hastings (which the local king lost, having been busy just before, fighting a different load of invaders) and everyone knows.

Which shows how mixed up and strange history can be.

Racism however is now utterly tied in with the issue of law order and control in football.  The Independent points out that John Obi Mikel “has graciously consented to being refereed by Mark Clattenburg, should the need for such a portentous ritual arise…”

The paper speaks of Mikel’s “woefully inadequate domestic suspension for threatening Clattenburg… Like Chelsea, Uefa are in a perpetual state of crisis management designed to convince us they are good corporate citizens. They must know the world sees through the Orwellian double-speak of such slogans as “We Care About Football”, yet they produce reams of self-congratulatory tosh hailing their work addressing “racism, reconciliation and peace, football for all abilities, violence, health, humanitarian aid, fan work and the environment”.

Absolutely, I agree entirely, and on reading this I began to wonder if I hadn’t after all made my first convert to the notion of the FA for the first time ever taking a stand and pulling out of UEFA until it stops supporting racism through its insane fines system.  Through this system Uefa shows itself to be institutionally racist.  By being integrated into Uefa the FA shares the same mantel.

The paper also points to the “the inconvenient truth that English football is indeed in “a moral vacuum”.

“The FA’s lamentable Football Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Action Plan promises to “promote inclusion and eliminate discrimination whether by reason of race, nationality, ethnic origin, colour, age, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, marital status, religion or belief, ability or disability”.

The Independent doesn’t go all the way, but it does note that the FA has but one objective, to get the politicians off its back, and stop anyone expecting action by saying constantly that “Something Has Been Done.”   At last, a newspaper I can agree with – as far as it goes.

The Telegraph however focuses on the notion that the people running Serbian football have been caught being racists before and magnanimously suggests that “England need to work with Serbia, drawing on sporting principles to enlighten them…

“Each official knows that FA punishments for racism, such as bans for Luis Suárez and John Terry, are insufficient. Each wants stricter censures. The FA, for all its flaws, drives in the right direction. Uefa, unfortunately, stalls again and again.”

This looked interesting until they reached their conclusion: “The FA is right to challenge Uefa, right to bolster its own tariff against racist acts or words. Influential English players like Rio Ferdinand must also lead the fight to Uefa’s door. Given Uefa’s shallow response on Thursday, Platini needs educating himself.”

And that’s it. No real call to action.

As for the Guardian, they seem to have given up, pointing out instead today that “Manchester City’s accumulated tax loss, now £461m, can be set off against any future profit – meaning ‘the company expects its effective tax rate in future years to be less than the UK standard’.”   Well yes, that’s how taxation works in the UK.  It might be right or wrong, but it affects all companies the same.

Meanwhile back at ground level we now find that Manchester City player Aleksandar Kolarov (who is Serbian) has been reported to the police for alleged racist remarks made to a fan waving an Albanian flag at the match against Newcastle yesterday.

Northumbria Police have received a complaint from a supporter alleging that racist language was used.  And maybe there was, but we do have to remember that abusing Albania and Albanians is not racist, because no one has ever shown that Albanians are a distinct race.

It is a confusion that surfaces regularly.  Abusing a citizen of the USA for being an American is not a racist comment, any more than the commentator on BBC Radio 5 was being racist when he said, “Like all Portuguese player’s he’s lazy”.   Stupid yes, but not racist.

So it goes on, and we can expect the level of complaints to rise.   But in terms of someone actually saying, let us act now and do something so major that everyone would take notice, and we start sorting things out, no one wants to make a move.

It was ever thus.


The books…

The sites…

11 Replies to “British newspapers find fault with Uefa, but have no new suggestions on how to move on.”

  1. Keep it going Mr Attwood. People need to read about UEFAs inability to deal with racism within their competitions.

    Serbia is still a country within Europe that is not a part of the EU they belong to the council of Europe along with Russia, Croatia, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, Ukraine, but are outside of the European union, do you see a old pattern emerging? Soon Serbia will be completely surrounded my EU member states which have to protect their borders with non EU nations.

    We in England pride ourselves on our moral values which to be honest are lacking in society, the papers have a moral obligation to attract attention to these issues, otherwise there is no point to there existence.

  2. As one, whose ancestors were part of William’s invasion fleet, I take umbrage at your implication that Harold was only defeated because he was tired out after his earlier match at Stamford Bridge against the Vikings. Before the battle at Battle, we made sure that Harold had a good night’s rest and had substitutes available.
    To suggest that William’s team had an unfair advantage is a much regretted slur on the force that eventually produced Thierry Henry.

  3. Patrick Collins’ perspective, notably the reference to Spurs fans and drunks should make our more critical “supporters” stop and think.

  4. So Ian wright i think he wants to be in the news paper but he wont be there a lot not until he gets his ass somewhere to coach. Wonder whats going on in the heads of the AAA ?? Bring in red nose,Daglish Ian wright,Mourinho and Guardiola i doubt those two because the AAA can not afford to pay 28 million pounds a year can they? The Prof stays and he wins IN ARSENE WE TRUST.

  5. I have never seen a jackass like Dean,i wonder how he became a ref in the first place. Michu gets injured after being banged on the head and he does not blow the whistle. And the commentators will never stop talking about Arsenal ooh boy they like our team.

  6. Something to ponder upon –

    In the end we will remember
    not the words of our enemies ,
    but the silence of our friends .

    Dr.Martin Luther King Jr

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