UEFA have got it wrong fining Montenegro just €20,000 after racist chants against Raheem Sterling

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After England international Raheem Sterling was subjected to vile racist abuse in England’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro the Manchester City playmaker said “It sounds harsh, but which fan will risk racist behaviour if it might relegate their team or ruin their title bid? Small fines do no damage to clubs and countries, but one group of people who do have the money to make them take notice are sponsors. The next time that a club or governing body fails to act appropriately against racism, I would love to see that company pull its money out and make a moral stand. I don’t know how long it will take for things to change but we have to start now. I don’t want the next generation of black players to have to put up with this evil.”

So it seems a slap in the face that UEFA have announced that Montenegro will face a fine of just 20,000 euros, a figure that is totally affordable to the nation. But wait there’s more they will also play their next match against Kosovo on June 7th behind closed doors. And that is that. Case closed.

UEFA have ended up handing out a very standard fine, something we have seen for the past 15-20 years in European football. If racist chants against black players were happening years ago and these type of fines were applied, why is it that nothing has changed in 2019?

UEFA’s decision to hand such a small fine and a one match behind closed doors is simply mindboggling, it makes absolutely no sense. It also takes Sterling’s words and throws it in the nearest bin- it feels as though himself and other countless black players have been silenced. The small fine will not stop racist chanting happening again. And Sterling was right to pick out sponsors that is UEFA’s life blood. Could you imagine McDonald’s pulling out of football- now that would make UEFA think.

So what should UEFA have done? They had two choices. The first would have been to  keep to a fine but instead make it 10 times more and get the national side to play half of their remaining games behind closed doors, but let away fans in.

The second would be simply to have kicked the team out of the competition. This seems incredibly harsh because at the end of the day it isn’t the players fault, but it would have set such a brutal barrier as to have a zero tolerance attitude on racism.

Instead and sadly Montenegro have been fined just like other clubs and nations over the years, a small amount that feels like a slap on the wrist- and an open letter to make racism boil over once again in the future.

 

Prince Gouano is forced to stop Amiens v Dijon because of racist chants

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What could be more controversial than the ugly desperate disease that is racism? It has never really gone away of course but there have been too many recent cases of black players being subjected to abuse from the football stands in the last few weeks, be it at international or club level.

The latest vile incident was last Friday night when Amiens played Dijon in a game that ended goalless. Amiens defender Prince Gouano actually halted play because racist abuse was being used towards him and what happened next has been impressive.

In the past we have seen players walk off, or halted a match and been subjected to an investigation by either the national league or UEFA. It doesn’t mean that any official thinks that they were wrong, but actually stopping a game just seemed in the past against the laws of football. Thankfully that looks set to have changed.

When Gouano halted the game everyone seemed to be on his side. The officials, the players, the manager. After the game the French Football Federation commended Gouano for his actions and so did UEFA and FIFA and that response gives everyone involved with football a hope for the future.

The LFP the Ligue de Football Professionnel said ‘The LFP condemns the racist insults that led to the temporary interruption of Friday’s game between Dijon FCO and Amiens SC. The LFP wishes to show its support for Prince-Désir Gouano. On Wednesday, the Disciplinary Committee will study the case. The person accused of the racist insults was identified by Dijon on Friday evening and later arrested. As part of its agreement with the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA), the LFP will study the next legal steps to be taken in this case.’

The statement above is terrific news for any real football follower. Ligue 1 has shown that there will be a zero tolerance attitude to racism. If one was to think of this scenario of a racist fan attending a game in the coming weeks surely they are going to have pause for thought about the results of their actions. Leagues such as Serie A could learn a thing or two about how swiftly and correctly the LFP has reacted.

Prince Gouano himself has also commented saying that racism has no right to be in football or society. What Gouano did was the right thing but what has been more remarkable has been how backed up he has been. Take the example in Italy a few weeks ago when Moise Kean for Juventus was subjected to racist chants and not even his teammate Lenoardo Bonucci could see how clear the picture was initially saying it was a 50/50 fault. He later backtracked on his comments, but it felt like a lazy typical reply in the first place.

Every major league in the world has racism problems but tackling it head on as the LFP have done has to be the right thing to do, and hopefully one day this won’t be an issue in football anymore.

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