Thursday, September 25, 2008

FIFA: utterly spineless in the face of racism...

As I have written here before, the Throne will have no truck with racism or with racists, which is why I find the "punishment" meted out to the Croatian Football Association, following the abuse - consisting of monkey chants and the like - heaped on England's Emile Heskey during the recent international match at the Maksimir Stadium so depressingly inadequate.

The abuse Heskey endured was such that our FA made an official complaint about his treatment to FIFA, the world governing body for Association Football (or soccer for my North American visitors).

In announcing that it was fining the Croatian FA, a FIFA spokesman observed:

"Racism has no place in football. Fifa is determined to continue broadcasting this message around the globe and deploying all of the means at its disposal to eliminate this form of discrimination."

And in the next breath they revealed that the fine would be... £15,000. Yes, fifteen grand; about the same price as a new mid-range Ford Focus.

Pathetic enough, given the seriousness of the "Heskey" offence, but criminally inadequate when it is remembered that Croatian fans have something of a record in this area - they were fined a similarly trifling sum after their fans racially abused Turkish players during a match between the two countries at Euro 2008.

If FIFA was really determined to 'eliminate this form of discrimination', they should ensure that the sanctions for allowing behaviour of this sort to occur during international matches are far more severe.

My proposal would be that the first such offence should result in the offending national association being ordered to play all their home matches behind closed doors for the duration of an entire tournament, or a refusal to sell tickets to supporters of that country for the final stages of that competition. Moving on, a continued failure to learn he lesson would result in the deduction of of tournament qualifying points and finally, if the lesson has still not been learned, expulsion from international competitions, until the offending country's association could satisfy the rest of the civilised world that the problem had been permanently eradicated.

Somehow, I don't think fining repeat offenders fifteen grand is going to have the slightest effect on changing their fans' behaviour, because there is no incentive for the authorities in the nation in question to take the necessary steps ensure that it is.

Expelling them from international competitions and making them worldwide pariahs just might.

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