If UEFA dealt with racism as strictly as they do with financial fair play, then the beautiful game wouldn’t be so ugly.
Manchester City were fined 30 million euros on Friday by UEFA for ‘serious breaches of financial fair play’. They were also handed a two-year ban from competing in the Champions League.
Although City have seemed to violate the rules and should therefore receive appropriate treatment, the efficiency of how the situation has been dealt is incredibly frustrating, because this has not been replicated in other issues like racism.
When England played Bulgaria in a Euro 2020 qualifier, it was apparent that the Bulgaria fans were making Nazi salutes and monkey chants to the black England players. Bulgaria after 15 days were eventually fined 75 thousand euros by UEFA and were made to play their final two qualifiers behind closed doors.
The fact that breaching financial rules results in paying a 30 million euro fine and being banned from a prestigious competitions for two years, whilst racism is hardly punished at all, shows that there is something seriously wrong in the way authorities are being run and prioritising punishments that involve money.
Strides have been made from the dark ages when England’s first black player Viv Anderson suffered racial abuse. Anderson told the Guardian “as a black man who played through the 1970s and 1980s, racial abuse was relatively commonplace. You think the game has gone past this stage but there is still a battle to be won.”
This is clear with many incidents still occur. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a banana skin thrown at him whilst celebrating a goal against Tottenham in the North London derby. Also, Mario Balotelli whilst playing for Brescia in the Serie A, picked up the ball during the game and kicked it into the stands against Hellas Verona, after receiving racial chants from the crowd.
Yet despite all of these incidents, there has been no change in the rules and there is a serious lack of a deterrent that will prevent people from going to games and being racist towards players or coaches in the future.
Former Premier League striker Jozy Altidore has also expressed this view, asking where this level of urgency is when dealing with racism, compared to financial issues.
In a game last night in the Primeira Liga, there was another alleged racist incident on FC Porto striker Moussa Marega. The forward decided to sub himself off after scoring a goal against Vitoria SC and was booked by the referee in his protests towards the fans.
UEFA seem to be prioritising issues surrounding finance and slam down on them to prevent it from happening again. But with issues such as racism, they appear to be too soft in their approach to punishment, which is why players are being abused and subsequently walking off pitches and subbing themselves.
No human should have to suffer from racial abuse off the pitch, so no footballer should have to suffer from it whilst playing on the pitch. This means that UEFA and FIFA both need to start making punishments involving racism stronger like they do with financial issues, because they have a duty to protect players and can help create an environment that is safe to play football in.