116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

It's Time To End This

If you are waiting for those harsh FIFA racism punishments to start kicking in, then join the club. After yet another incident in which a section of ultras subjected a player to fierce racial abuse, followed by a paltry fine, one can't help but wonder what kind of follow-up FIFA has undertaken to ensure that their new punishment system (three points for a first offence, six for a second and relegation for further offences) is more than an empty promise. Even moreso than punishment, however, one wonders what can be done to change the culture that produces such ugliness.
I, for one, believe that as big a part that ultras play in the game, it is time to curtail a bit of the anything-goes atmosphere that surrounds their sections. England has taken great steps in this regard, banning banners and flares, as well as setting up video surveillance to identify troublemakers. Some may say that such steps detract from the general atmosphere, but nobody complains that English stadiums lack charisma, do they? I am of the belief that if you establish a sense of order, people will behave more orderly. English fans had to learn this the hard way, during the dark times of the 1980's, but seem to have come out ok, even if they no longer have fences, banners, flares or standing sections.
So now we must turn our attention to the Santos Lagunas, Real Zaragozas and SS Lazios of the world, where uprooting a racist culture cannot be done at the club level, where ultras often have too much power and clubs often don't care enough to address the issue. FIFA must take up this cause itself, and start imposing its own rules upon wayward clubs. I cannot wait for the day when FIFA makes an example out of a club and hands out a hefty point deduction, or bans banners in all FIFA-sanctioned matches, or even relegates a habitual offender. It is right and it is necessary, and it's about time FIFA grew a pair and did it.


Blogger 30f said...

Another in a line of ugly, ugly stories. Sigh.

This racial stuff is MUCH worse that the referee scandals in Italy. Racism in the stands should be unacceptable, but as long as FIFA acts like it is minor thing, then the national leagues act the same and the local clubs do as well.

The recent EPL efforts have done wonders and now it is THE league (surprise, surprise) where lots of international stars want to play. I'm sure part of that happened because English officials realized that bad fan behavior (racist and otherwise) was hurting their bottom line. The EPL saw the future (and the $$$) coming and changed accordingly, but smaller/dumber leagues will need to be led out of the darkness by someone bigger.

That is FIFA's job and they are certainly not doing it. Slogans on the field in Germany were nice, but actions speak louder than slogans.

First offense should be the next home game is played fan-less. After that start penalizing the teams points in the standings - like 3 points for the second offense and 9 for the third. Plus big financial penalties – like the average ticket and beer income for a home game. See how many teams make it past the first offense.

This is all on FIFA. Racism is found everywhere, but it must first be eradicated in Switzerland if soccer fields around the world are to truly be places of fairness and true competition.

8:42 PM  

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