This week the football governing body UEFA saw fit to hand the Bulgarian Football Union a fine of 75000 Euros and a 1 match ban. The ban means they will now play 1 match behind closed doors. Fans from both Bulgaria and the opposition will not be permitted to enter the stadium. The ban is as a result of a suspended sentence that was handed to them for an earlier incident.
Firstly, I believe that fine to be utterly ridiculous. I have no idea how they arrive at the amount but when players have been fined heftier amounts in the past for far less serious matters then this is surely a slap in the face for those players who were abused. I think after this, players, will be far more inclined to walk off the field or not play at all. Players now must fight for their rights because I don’t see a small fine deterring any would be racist.
The ban I believe is a step in the right direction. My question is this though, if they have been guilty in the past of such behavior why then, is the ban 1 game? I understand that the financial ramifications are substantial when it comes to the 1 match ban but in my view, it is not enough and only when UEFA take a tougher stance on racism will the problem find a solution. As I’ve said in many articles before, I believe the minimum ban should be 5 matches. I have no doubt in my mind that this will light a fight at the behind of the Bulgarian Football Union and they will actively seek those responsible for the racist behavior and deny them access to any sporting events both in Bulgaria and anywhere in the world.
UEFA president, Aleksander Ceferin has said that UEFA’s sanctions are among the toughest in sport when it comes to racism. If they think that these sanctions are tough on racism, then I’m sorry but the decision makers at UEFA need to be educated on racism so that more appropriate sanctions can be handed to those who participate in this ridiculous behavior. As I’ve said before education is the only way to eradicate racism. Having said that, a harsh punishment system to keep racists away from football isn’t a bad idea either. If we can get to a point where children are being educated about race and racism while racists are being banned from stadiums at some point the scale will tip in favor of the just, in favor of inclusion and in favor of loving thy brother.
Until then unfortunately it looks like it will be up to the players to protest. They will have to start planning to boycott certain national teams and certain clubs throughout Europe until the scourge that is racism starts to be dealt with from the people in power at UEFA. Unfortunately, the integrity of the players doesn’t matter to the hierarchy of UEFA because if it really did, they would send a message with the sanctions they hand out. Instead they conform to a standard instead of setting the bar when it comes to racism. Instead of coming out and making a huge statement they go just above the normal sanctions so that they look tougher on racism than other sports. Football is one of the most watched sport in the world and they have the power to send a very powerful message, if they wanted to!