During the chaos that ensued after the U21 international between England and Serbia on the 16th of October 2012, one thing became abundantly clear: racism is still very much alive and well in the beautiful game. A number of England players were subjected to the worst kind of abuse by a section of the Serbia fans. Monkey chants could be heard throughout the game and objects were thrown at a number players. With frustrations boiling over at the final whistle England’s Danny Rose kicked a ball into the crowd whilst, Steven Caulker and Thomas Ince become embroiled in a physical confrontation with Serbia’s players and coaches.
FIFA must do more
FIFA’s limp wristed response was to ban both Caulker and Ince for two games, a number of Serbia players for four and demand that the next game played by their U21’s was done so behind closed doors. A fine of £65,000 was also imposed, a small sum when you consider the riches available in the sport. These punishments were seen by many as inadequate, an insult to those players who had suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of the racist minority.
Blatter’s ignorance alienates players
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has been criticised in the past for his refusal to acknowledge the endemic racism that stills mar’s European football. Believing players who have been racially abused by fellow professionals should ignore the comments and shake hands at full time. Blatter also refuses to support a players’ refusal to continue with a match if he feels he has been racially abused by an individual or the crowd. Blatter believes this isn’t a long term, sustainable solution. Perhaps not, but until Sepp Blatter and his UEFA counterpart Michele Platini impose consistent and hard hitting sanctions on anyone engaging or encouraging racist behavior at football it seems the only option that many players feel they have. Football is the international language, uniting nations and individuals. But until it’s governing body’s systematically clean its mouth out, racism and the abuse of players will continue unabated.
Picture copyright: Walter Luger – Fotolia