As spectacular as the soccer at Euro 2012 has been — on the field, it’s been one of the best tournaments in decades — the spectacle of the European championships has been marred by constant fan rioting and racism directed at players.Today, the Croatian Football Federation was fined 80,000 euros because fans set off fireworks, displayed racist symbols and made racist chants in a match against Italy last Thursday.
Last week, Russia was similarly fined for bad fan behaviour.
But in both cases, the fines represent a massive failure on UEFA’s behalf to try and halt racism.
“UEFA… has given the power to referees to stop matches in case of any repeated racist behaviour,” Platini said in early June.
The only problem? The referees have been oblivious to racist chants, and the only match stoppage thus far was for a ferocious storm that halted a Ukraine-France match.
Actually stopping an important match in front of a massive worldwide television audience would be a bold and unprecedented statement, but it seems that referees and UEFA aren’t willing to stand behind their lofty pre-tournament promises.
A fine against a country’s soccer program has absolutely no effect on the fans, and does nothing to discourage future racist behaviour. Stopping a match is the only way fans in the stadium can directly be punished for their actions.
In fact, the harshest penalty of all was given not in response to racism or rioting, but to striker Nicklas Bendtner for wearing underwear that had an advertisement on it.
For the stunt, Bendtner was fined 100,000 euros and will be banned from a 2014 World Cup qualifying match.
Meanwhile, there seems to be no end to the abuse going on in Poland and Ukraine each day.
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