UEFA need to show zero tolerance to racism after Bulgaria-England game

It was suspected that it would happen before the game and then it did. England played Bulgaria away from home and the nations black players had been warned that racist chanting could happen during the game. But this time there was a plan of action at hand.

Sure enough the racist chants bellowed out throughout the stadium in under 30 minutes and it was heartening to see something different happen- the game stopped, the referee abide, talked to England manager Gareth Southgate and also a group of racist fans were led out of the stadium. Finally some action whilst the game was going on had occurred. Black players who have had to endure vile chants usually monkey gestures were taking that fight back.

One had to feel sorry for Tyrone Mings, who had earned his place finally in the England team. This was his debut for the national side and it should have been a memorable and proud one. Sure England won 6-0 and Mings played his part but it all got overshadowed by the racists.

After the game UEFA charged both sets of fans- England for chanting during the Bulgarian national anthem and Bulgarian fans even if in the minority and their racist and also Nazi salutes. But what will be the outcome?

Simply put UEFA have been pretty useless at dealing with racism. Getting the worlds best players to partake in anti racist messages does not work, banners do not work, adverts do not work, fines do not work, banning certain fans does not work. having sections of the ground closed off does not work and even playing behind closed doors does not work. So what is the solution.

Maybe simply there is none. Racism has been with us for centuries why would it go away in 2019? It won’t and to think it will is living in dreamland. But Bulgaria need to be punished as does any other nation and football club by that matter. The punishment needs to be to stop that supply- that means to actually stop the football club or nation operating. In effect suspending a business.

Bulgaria should be thrown out of the Euro 2020 qualifying and then banned from partaking in the qualifiers for the next World Cup. With every other friendly game played outside the country. It might seem harsh but a message needs to be sent.

As for clubs, stop the fines and start docking points. As much as 10 points, punish those clubs if they are on the verge of European football and those 10 points drop them out of contention or could be the difference between being relegated or not.

No matter what colour you are or religion, you have the right not to be harassed on a football field and in the wider spectrum society. We will never get rid of racism, but we need to reduce it, and the only way of doing that is by having a zero tolerance attitude.

Was Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva really being racist towards Benjamin Mendy?

It started with a laugh, banter between two friends, ended up with a tweet and then finished up with Kick it Out getting involved and reporting Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva for a racist tweet.

A few days ago Silva tweeted a photo of team mate Mendy as a baby next to a Spanish chocolate logo of what looks like a black child, and made a comparison joke about it. Uproar soon followed and the FA got on the case and now inevitably Kick it Out are asking the FA to punish Silva.

Let’s first study the facts; Silva and Mendy are very close friends off the field and get on very well. Mendy responded to Silva’s tweet with laughter, so certainly Mendy isn’t taking it seriously and can see the joke. The problem is that what you do on the internet is always seen differently, out of context if you like, and it does look like on first impact that Silva’s tweet makes him out to be a racist. Once we understand a friendly personal relationship that in fairness we know nothing about since it’s private then we would understand more about Silva and Mendy’s friendship and how they work off of one another.

At the same time Silva brutally opened those doors to a public, and really he should have known better, and should have thought about it sharing something that is obviously very sensitive to an unsuspecting eye, not involved in any way shape or form in that friendship, and will never be.

The problem for Silva is that he has allegedly done this before, and to the same player. When Mendy was wearing a black t shirt he said why did you turn up naked? It’s very possible that again the two of them laughed it off, but guess what, the joke was very much on Mendy. Does Mendy give it back? At this point in time we have no idea.

Silva could be facing up to a 6 game ban which would make his manager Pep Guardiola absolutely livid, if nothing else and even if Silva is not a racist, why not share what could be very sensitive in a personal email or message to Mendy rather than to his 603,000 followers?

There is no historical evidence that Silva is a racist, and he seems very much like a good person within football. However that doesn’t dispel what he did and what he did was an act of ignorance which could be deemed racist. It is important to note that one can say or do a racist thing without having hate towards a certain race and it does seem this is what Silva has done, it certainly wasn’t correct to compare a logo to a black player, even if the two of them found it funny.

Bans or fines make no sense and whilst Kick it Out needs to bring Silva’s actions to attentions their suggestions seem draconian and fruitless. Rather spending some time with minorities a few educational classes would be the better way to go here, and again no one is suggesting Silva is a racist, but it was a joke in poor taste.

Kick it Out and the FA were absolutely right to not let this just lie and forget about it. The Italian FA and UEFA do a good enough job of that, and look at what has happened there. Racism in any walks of life needs to be attached with a zero tolerance attitude even in Silva’s case when it clearly was edgy banter between two good friends.

Once these tweets are left to slip, others are too and that disease called racism will then grow and grow as our tolerance becomes more accepted to the fact. Give Silva some educational tips but don’t condemn him to the sidelines or empty his bank account just yet.

 

 

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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