Sunday, 8 June 2014

How Seriously Do UEFA Treat The Issue Of Racism In Football?

Let's Kick Common Sense Out Of Football...

The beautiful game, but it's not without its faults.
It's time for a football themed blog post this week, but instead of my usual round-up of funny football quotes from players and managers, I've decided instead to look at a serious question.

That question is, 'How seriously does UEFA treat the issue of racism in football?'  It's tricky to specifically quantify something like that, so the most obvious way to measure how seriously certain issues are taken by UEFA is to compare the punishments that UEFA have handed out for various 'misdemeanours', and then see how the fines compare.

So here are a few examples of fines handed out by UEFA for various crimes...

1) The crime: Racism

When Mario Balotelli (then a Manchester City player) was subjected to racist chants by Portuguese side Porto during a Europa League match in February 2012, UEFA handed Porto a fine of £16,500.

In order to avoid upsetting UEFA, all non-approved advertising
has been pixellated from the above photo.
2) The 'crime': Unauthorised Advertising

When Nicklas Bendtner lifted up his shirt after scoring a goal for Denmark to reveal his Paddy Power sponsored boxer shorts, he received a fine of £80,000.

Perhaps if Bendtner had displayed a racist comment on his boxer shorts he would have received a fine of only £16,500?

3) The 'crime': Criticising UEFA's record on racism

When Patrick Viera criticised UEFA for not doing enough to tackle racism, how did they respond?  Did UEFA respond by taking Viera's comments onboard and promising to get tougher on racism in future?  No, they responded by giving Viera a fine of £2,300 as a punishment for criticising them.

4) The crime: Withdrawing from UEFA competition

Back in 2003 the Football Association of Wales was hard up, so when the draw for the women's European Championship qualifiers was made, Wales were disappointed to learn that they would be playing against teams from far away countries such as Kazakhstan, Israel, Belarus and Estonia.  The FA of Wales therefore decided to withdraw from the competition as they would struggle to afford the travel costs to such far away destinations.

UEFA responded to Wales' financial hardship by fining them £23,000.

5) The crime: Being late out for the second half

When Manchester City were away to Sporting Lisbon and committed the despicably unforgivable crime of being late out for the second half, UEFA clamped down hard on their unacceptable tardiness and fined them around £25,000.

6) The crime: Spending too much of your own money

The fact that Manchester City have a very rich owner who is happy to spend his own money on top players has caused a lot of jealousy from rival fans, and has arguably been the sort of example which has led to UEFA bringing in new rules restricting the sums which football club owners can spend relative to their club's income.

As a result, when Manchester City overspent the maximum they were allowed by several millions of pounds, UEFA handed them a fine of £50,000,000.


So if you do the maths, this is how seriously UEFA ranks racism when compared with other 'crimes'.  Starting in reverse order...

Punished for speaking the truth...
6) The 'crime': Criticising UEFA's indifference to racism

The least serious crime in UEFA's eyes is the 'crime' of criticising UEFA for not being tough enough on racism.  Although in any normal person's eyes, of course this isn't a crime at all and in reality Patrick Viera deserved a lot of credit for speaking out and telling the truth about UEFA's shortcomings.

How serious is this according to UEFA: 0.14 times as serious as racism.

5) The crime: Racism

Based on the relative financial penalties imposed in the six examples above, racism is regarded as the second least significant crime by UEFA.

How serious is this according to UEFA: Clearly, UEFA don't treat racism seriously enough.

4) The crime: Withdrawing from UEFA competition

The next most serious crime in UEFA's eyes is withdrawing from a UEFA tournament due to financial hardship.  I can understand the criticism of the FA of Wales for withdrawing from the women's European Championship qualifying stages, but fining someone as a punishment for being hard up was probably not the best way to handle it.

How serious is this according to UEFA: 1.4 times more serious than racism.

Man City's heinous crime of poor time-keeping
was promptly punished by UEFA.
3) The crime: Being late out for the second half

The third most serious crime in UEFA's opinion was the crime of being late out for the second half.  This one presumably all boils down to money as obviously there's a lot of money involved in televised football nowadays, and for advertising purposes, networks understandably like to have strict times as to when matches will start.  That's fair enough, but I think it's safe to say that it's nevertheless still quite a controversial decision to regard tardiness as a worse crime than racism.

How serious is this according to UEFA: 1.5 times more serious than racism.

2) The crime: Unauthorised advertising

The second most serious crime in UEFA's eyes is the crime of unauthorised advertising.  Obviously UEFA rakes in millions of pounds in sponsorship from companies such as McDonalds, Coca Cola, and Carlsberg (the official beer of UEFA Euro 2016) so clearly they don't have a problem with the concept of advertising.  Apparently though, UEFA like to ensure that it's them that gets all the money from sponsors, rather than players.

How serious is this according to UEFA: 4.8 times more serious than racism.

And in the number one spot...

1) Spending too much of your own money

Punished for spending your own money.
When you calculate the comparative level of seriousness based on the relative fines, UEFA apparently reckon that spending too much of your own money is over three thousand times more serious than racism!

I can understand why UEFA allegedly want to create a level playing field, but if UEFA genuinely cared about creating a level playing field then surely they would come down just as hard on owners who leech money out of football (*cough* Mike Ashley *cough* Glazers *cough*), as they do on owners who put money into football.

For example, Monaco were punished for an inflated advertising deal which didn't reflect true market value, and yet Newcastle United give away millions of pounds worth of free advertising to S***** Direct every year, and apparently that's okay?  Surely 'free' doesn't reflect true market value either?

How serious is this according to UEFA: 3,030 times more serious than racism.

Anyway, apologies to any non-football fans for covering a footballing topic this week, but the real point of this page was to examine how seriously UEFA treats racism, and when you look at the relative fines, I think it's pretty clear that UEFA need to seriously re-evaluate their priorities.

On a closing note, here's a poll to gauge opinion on whether UEFA take the issue of racism in football seriously enough...

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