It seems that we are no closer to actually ‘kicking’ racism out of football and it is not in small part thanks to stupidly minor punishments that are handed out to sides found guilty.
Olympiacos of Greece were recently found guilty of having fans setting off fireworks and the ‘racist conduct of supporters.’ The punishment for this was handed out earlier and along with just over a $67,000 fine, they will have to play the home game, in the Champions League, with an empty North stand.
Zenit St Petersburg were also fined just under $90,000 when their fans displayed a racist banner in the game against Austria Vienna in the last Champions League Group game. Again, along with the fine, is a partial empty stadium against Borussia Dortmund. UEFA did not disappoint with their actions. The ‘Kick Racism out of Football’ and the anti-racism mantra peddled by these guys in charge of the beautiful game is made a mockery when it comes to the punishment.
I had written after the CSKA Moscow against Manchester City game about the small fines and token gestures towards eradicating racism in the game. Comparing racism fines with the one of Nicklas Bendtner ($130,000), who revealed the top of his underwear with a sponsors name across the band. The penalty for racist abuse in this case? A partial stadium closure for their next Champions League home game.
Yes, that is all the punishment handed out for the World Cup host country for 2018. Meanwhile in Bulgaria, fans of Botev Plovdiv hit an official with an object and their side have to play their next home game behind closed doors and were fined $2,800. Meanwhile in Brazil, Vasco da Gama and Corinthians were both ordered to play their next four home games without their own supporters following crowd trouble.
What do we take from this? That domestic governing bodies come down harder on abuse, whether physical or verbal, than UEFA and FIFA. It seems these bodies see a player giving a sponsor free advertising a harsher punishment than racism and that is no deterrent at all.