DAVID PYE COLUMN: Tough action needed to clamp down on racist chants
THE national media went into overdrive last week discussing whether Roy Hodgson’s half-time anecdote in the England-Poland game had racist connotations – I just hope there is as much publicity this week after more serious events in Russia.
Not for the first time in a country that is set to host the World Cup after Brazil in 2018, black players were subject to vile abuse and chanting during a game – Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure the target this time during his side’s Champions League win in Moscow.
The Ivorian was furious and rightly so – are we not living in the 21st century?
For all the furore surrounding Hodgson last week, it is an issue football authorities on these shores have addressed successfully since the days when bananas flew from the terraces at players like John Barnes in the 1980s.
There have been incidents and it would be wrong to gloss over them – just look at Marvin Sordell’s treatment when Wanderers visited Millwall just a year ago and the sickening insults hurled in his direction.
But generally, we do not have mass numbers chanting monkey noises or the like to black footballers in the English game – and if it did occur, the penalties would be severe.
It is a shame that does not seem to apply on the continent and beyond.
While FIFA and UEFA talk a good game with regards clamping down on racism, they rarely back their strong words up with strong action.
I remember when England played in Spain and our black players suffered abuse. The penalty dished out by UEFA? A fine of £44,750 – roughly a week’s wages for an average Premier League player these days – for a national federation is frankly pathetic.
It is ludicrous and not a stand-alone example. England Under-21s players, again including Sordell, were the victims in Serbia in their European Championship play-off in December 2012 and that actually ended with some of those England players reprimanded for their reaction.
Then we had the situation when AC Milan’s Kevin-Prince Boateng walked off in a friendly match due to racist abuse – that time UEFA claimed it lay outside their jurisdiction. What? A football match in Europe was not under their jurisdiction? As I say, ridiculous.
The most recent sanction last April saw Ukrainian side Dynamo Kiev forced to play a European tie behind closed doors after their fans were found guilty of racist chanting against French sides Bordeaux and PSG.
Is that really the tougher line the likes of Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter promised? Not in my view. It is time to punish clubs heavily with long bans from competitions, not just games behind closed doors.
Hit clubs in the pocket and maybe then they will do more to sort out the behaviour of their fans.