The not so beautiful game – The treatment of Sulley Muntari

Yet again football in Italy has failed to properly deal with the racism issue. This time Pescara midfield Sulley Muntari was the victim in a Serie A game between his club Pescara and Cagliari. Having received abuse, the Ghanian and former Portsmouth player went over to the fans who he had identified as those ones shouting racist chants. Having confronted the racists, I chose not to call them fans as decent football supporters don’t result to such levels, Muntari spoke to the referee. Thinking that the referee would deal with the matter, he was surprised to be on the receiving end of a yellow card. What was he given the yellow card for? dissent. I mean come on, if a player gets punished for reporting racism to a match official, then we are in trouble. Naturally the player walked off the pitch letting the game carry on.

It is appalling but yet not surprising to see the Italian FA failing to deal with the racism problem once more. We have seen time and time again that the racism problem raises its dirty head once more. Another example of failure to deal with racism is the treatment of Mario Ballotelli. The football enigma has been often a victim to the disgusting racism with the n word and monkey taunts. On one occasion was seen to be crying whilst on the bench having been on the receiving end of abuse. The response by his manager, Clarence Seerdorf and his players? Nothing to do with racism, but his passion for the game causing him to get upset.

What it needs is for a ban of some sort by either UEFA or FIFA on the Italian Football Association to make them realise that they need to take things more seriously. Handing out fines will simply not do.

Advertisements

They aren’t one of us.

Tuesday night saw the ugly side of English football fans when they denied a black man of African origin the opportunity to get on the train. The whole sorry episode was captured on video unknown to either party at the time. To make it worse, the group of fans started chanting ‘We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it’ as the train doors shut.

English football fans have down the years found themselves with a bad reputation, that had seemed to be disappearing. This reputation though I might add based on the minority of ‘so called football fans’. I’d be happy to say that this minority are a very small minority and are not what I would call fans,given the basis of how many genuine supporters travel up and down the country to watch their favourite team through thick and thin and with players of all nationalities and backgrounds.

Ironically though the Chelsea fans concerned may want to find themselves a new team to support. They forget that it was a Russian who helped save their club from Administration, some of their most successful managers are from foreign shores, the same with many of the legendary players. The likes of Ruud Gullit, Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink, Didier Drogba, Gianluca Vialli, Gianfranco Zola, Hernan Crespo, Frank Leboeuf, Arjen Robben, Tor Andre-Flo, Deco. Just some of the many foreign players to grace the Bridge.

The game has been better for it. Having watched football from an early age, to have the likes of Ruud Gullit grace the English game would have been unthinkable at one point, but no it came true. My only disappointment was that we never saw Marco Van Basten grace the stadiums of England wearing a shirt of a then Division One club.

It is important to point out that these individuals do not in any way represent the majority of decent Chelsea supporters who would be very quick to criticise the actions that bring the bad name to the club and in football in general.

Returning to the subject though, racism unfortunately blights the game in one way or another, if it’s not the fans, its players, Luis Suarez you will remember received a long ban and fine for racist words against Patrice Evra and John Terry whose case went to court where he was found not guilty, but received a ban from on field activity. Managers and former managers have not been exempt Ron Atkinson, famously making racist comments off air with his microphone still switched on and of course Spanish national coach Luis Aragones, who found himself involved in incidents.

Whilst the English game has been affected by racism in one way or another, we can be fortunate that the situation is dealt with better here than it is abroad. Many clubs have failed to deal with it properly and both UEFA and FIFA have not really made serious threats to punishing clubs or associations for their inability to deal with the problem. Spain, Italy and some Eastern European nations have found themselves having to face the responsibility of dealing with racist incidents in one way or another.

English clubs received from European competition due to the results of the Heysel Disaster, I believe that nations of those with persistent racist incidents and failure to deal with the situation in the appropriate manner, should bring the same result.

UEFA still not serious on Racism

It seems to be a broken record with UEFA. They claim to be tough in dealing with racism. Unfortunately it seems not the case. Following the banner unveiled in the Partizan v Spurs match, UEFA handed out their punishment. Was it a heavy fine? lengthy stadium ban? No unfortunately UEFA handed Partizan Belgrade a fine of 40,000 euros and the closure of Sector K against Besiktas this month. As well as the banner, the Partizan fans were investigated for three other offences. These offences had included setting off of fireworks, invading the pitch and pointing a laser pen.

A UEFA statement released stated:

“The fight against racism is a high priority for UEFA. The European governing body has a zero-tolerance policy towards racism and discrimination on the field and in the stand”

Adding to the statement UEFA stated:

“All forms of racist behaviour are considered serious offences against the disciplinary regulations and are punished with the most severe sanctions”

“Following the entry into force of new disciplinary regulations in June 2013, the fight against racist conduct has been stepped up a level – resulting in stricter penalties to deter any such behaviour”.

Now I don’t mean to come across as cynical, but since when did a 40,000 euro fine a sector ban for Partizan’s next European home game, be a result of tough new stricter penalties. They need to be tougher. A fine and partial ban is hardly going to deter fans from causing anymore problems.

Of course it’s not the first offence that Partizan fans have been involved in trouble. In 2007/08 Partizan were disqualified from further competition. Surely given the fact that Partizan have history, tougher punishment for the club should have been handed out. I guess nothing should surprise us anymore when it comes to UEFA and their inability to handout a substantial punishment.

The idea of 40,000 euros being a reasonable fine is just in fact a complete joke when Niklas Bendtner was fined at Euro 2012 a sum of £100,000 and a match ban for revealing some branded underwear.  How on earth can UEFA be taken seriously on racism when they hand out bigger fines for what is in contrast a trivial issue.

I feel until UEFA take the option of banning a nation, like they did to England after the Heysel Tragedy, then whatever they do, whatever they try to do or say should be taken with a pinch of salt because until then, no fans will have faith in the organisation to deal with the issue that hounds the game across the globe.