Racist Louts Should Get the Boot
If football is laying fines on clubs for the behaviour of fans, couldn't tennis lean on tournaments a bit more?
Racist louts should get boot
Oct. 17, 2002. 08:41 AM
By Norman Da Costa
Here we go again.
The new European season has barely kicked off and the racists and hooligans are back in full force.
In the last two months there has been crowd trouble in England, Greece, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and even tiny Switzerland and, as the season goes on, one can expect the violence to worsen.
Both FIFA and UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, have said they will not sit idly by and allow this to problem to mushroom. But unless they take a tougher line instead of dishing out fines that amount to nothing more than a slap on the wrists of the clubs and national associations it will go on unabated.
What is of a greater worry is the rise in racist taunts being directed at players.
Two weeks ago Arsenal's French stars Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira had objects thrown at them and were taunted throughout a Champions League match versus PSV Eindhoven.
UEFA slapped the Dutch club with a measly fine of $20,000 (all figures U.S.). This was a disgrace, especially when one considers that PSV has an awful track record when it comes to crowd trouble and racism.
Other fines handed out to Yugoslavia's FC Sartid and FC Brugges of Belgium were also laughable.
Sartid was ordered to pay a mere $17,000 after Ipswich Town's black players were the target of racial taunts and Brugges was hit for $15,000 after its fans meted out racial abuse to a Lokomotiv Moscow player last month.
Judging by these fines one wonders whether UEFA is at all concerned at the abuse players have to endure since it has been forceful with clubs whose fans have displayed violent behaviour.
Last week it ordered the Netherlands' Utrecht club and Georgia's Dinamo Tbilisi to play their next UEFA Cup matches in empty stadiums. This was after Utrecht's fans threw objects on the field and burned seats in the 3-1 loss to Poland's Legia Warsaw.
Dinamo's fans flung objects on to the field in the game against Czech club Slovan Liberac and an official was hit by a rock.
UEFA says it will meet early next month and come up with a new plan to stop the escalation.
Meanwhile, FIFA president Sepp Blatter says it is about time that this nonsense be stopped.
"We have talked about it, we have put those words into action. But now I think it is time for us to take our efforts to a higher level and lead the fight against discrimination in football with renewed vigour," said Blatter.
Players on national teams have not been immune to the racist taunts either.
Last week English officials said that the incidents against black players Emile Heskey and Ashley Cole were the worst they had ever seen in the 2-1 Euro qualifying win against Slovakia in Bratislava.
The crowd got on the case of the two players with a litany of chants and racial taunts and the English FA promptly demanded and received an apology from the Slovaks.
The game was also marred by crowd trouble between Slovak and English fans and riot police used batons on the visiting supporters.
UEFA has acted in a quick and efficient manner to hit the clubs where it hurts most for the violent behaviour of its fans, but why does it not apply the same punishment to the clubs and national associations when it comes down to the racist louts?
It is time for racism to be booted out of soccer.