UEFA panel ends racism
On Monday 14th October the England national football team headed to Bulgaria for a Euro 2020 qualifier, with qualification for next summer’s tournament almost in their grasp. Much of the build-up to the fixture had been dominated by fears of racism from the stands in Sofia. On a night where England put Bulgaria to the sword, winning six goals to nil, all of the on-pitch antics were overshadowed as everyone’s worst fears were realised.
The match was stopped for extended periods on two occasions after large sections of the Vasil Levski National Stadium had hurled abuse at several England players, particularly Tyrone Mings, Marcus Rashford, and Raheem Sterling. Several members of the England squad, notably Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham, had said that England were prepared to walk off the pitch were such a thing to happen in Bulgaria. All things seemed lost as in the 28th minute, referee Ivan Bebek brought the game to a halt, but out of the darkness of the evening, walked a group of heroes.
No, the Avengers had not abandoned their normal cinematic duties to save the England national team, and if so, could they not have done so in Nice three years ago? Instead, a group of almost mythical men in green tracksuits were there to save the day, with their invincible weapon, UEFA’s three step protocol.
England may well have been willing to walk off the pitch and sacrifice the three points that were firmly in their grasp, but thanks to UEFA and their all-conquering programme, such an act would not be necessary. Why would you take a stand against racism, when a room full of officials have sat around and taken truckloads of charity money to come up with a fool-proof plan?
So, there we were watching the match and plain as day there is discriminatory language coming from the stands, what happens now? Well, the match will stop and then a stadium announcer will take to the PA system and politely ask the hooligans to stop. Wait… that’s it? Not sure somebody doing monkey chants would even hear that, let alone stop doing it. However, that is merely the start, I suppose it will get better from there. So, the next time it happens, the stadium announcer will make another announcement and then the players will go to the changing rooms. Okay, not an awful lot better, I suppose the third step must be the one to really stick it to the racists. Step three says that the match will be abandoned if the abuse does not stop. So, you’re telling me that UEFA’s big plan for ending racism in football essentially boils down to “stop being so naughty, no football for you”? Was someone late to the meeting when they devised this because they were called to their child’s primary school for behaviour issues and just used the same policy?
I was hoping for something a little more radical to be perfectly honest. Not totally sure this one is going to prevent racism, but I imagine they know better. Maybe this is why not many comic books are made about a panel sitting around a table and talking about how to fight crime.
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