Logo no-go worse than racism?
The Union of European Football Associations (Uefa) has risked the anger of anti-racism groups by fining Croatia less for monkey chants aimed at Mario Balotelli than the Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner was for displaying sponsored underwear.
The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) was docked €80000 for offences that included the racist abuse of the Italy striker by between 300 and 500 of the country’s fans during the group C game in Poznan on Thursday, which was also dogged by accusations that a banana had been thrown onto the field.
The fine was one of the biggest imposed by Uefa for racism-related incidents, but it was still significantly lower than the €100000 punishment and one-match ban dished out to Bendtner 24 hours earlier. Critics of the decision pointed out that Uefa had taken more draconian action against Bendtner than it had over several racist incidents over the years.
These arguments carried even more weight considering that Croatia’s fine was not only for racist abuse. The HNS, which labelled its misbehaving fans “deviant”, was also punished for fans setting off and throwing fireworks for a second time at Euro 2012. It had been docked €25000 for that – and the invasion of the pitch by a supporter – during the win against Republic of Ireland on Sunday.
Croatia have previously been fined twice for racism by Uefa and Fifa since 2008 and the former’s president, Michel Platini, said he was dismayed by the country’s supporters. “I’m not happy for Croatia,” he said. “I was in Croatia a year ago and I’m not happy. They have a good team which plays well, but it’s unacceptable when you’ve got a hundred or so arseholes among the crowd.”
Meanwhile, Germany were the latest team to face punishment for the extremist behaviour of their fans – action was taken over the display of a neo-Nazi banner during their group B win over Denmark on Sunday.
The Football Against Racism in Europe (Fare) network, which has been working with Uefa to monitor crowd problems during Euro 2012, posted on its Twitter account: “Fare can confirm that one of our observers reported a neo-Nazi banner in the German section at the match v Denmark in Lviv on Sunday.”
Disciplinary proceedings were opened by Uefa against the German Football Association (DFB) for the “display of inappropriate banners and symbols and inappropriate chanting”. The DFB was also charged with the setting off of fireworks, having been fined €10000 after its fans threw screwed-up pieces of paper at Portugal players during the team’s opening group game in Lviv.
Euro 2012 has been marred by several allegations of racism, including another involving Balotelli, one surrounding the Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie, and claims of such abuse during a Holland training session before the tournament began.
Russia were last week given a suspended six-point deduction for their Euro 2016 campaign over the behaviour of their fans in Poland and Ukraine, which included the display of extremist banners. – © Guardian News & Media 2012