Same problem, different year, but it’s still all one big mess
Ref, ref, did you hear what that player/fan just called me? No, sorry mate, I’ll listen out next time, the official replies tamely. It happens again, and again and again. What do you do? Take the law into your own hands, hit the offending player, burst out in tears, ask your manager to take you off or lead your team off the pitch. I know what I’d do.
It’s hard to believe that in 2013 a so-called friendly can be abandoned because of a bunch of bigots chanting racist abuse. What a sad state of affairs.
Once again outrage has been expressed since AC Milan’s George Boateng walked off the pitch after the latest incident, but it appears that the message has still not hit home.
I believe Uefa is out of touch and has shown little interest on this topic. They have failed to come up with a hard-hitting response time and again and the fact that Pro Patria have been ordered to play just one match behind closed doors by Lega Pro is no more than a slap on the wrist in my eyes.
Having looked through the FA’s Inclusion Anti-Discrimination Action Plan, I’m far from convinced that much will change. The CST and Maccabi GB have voiced their frustration that the document "does not specifically include antisemitism or the particular concerns of Jewish footballers and fans". I’m with them. It’s hard to believe the report was written and published without consultation with any Jewish community groups or sporting bodies. And as the CST’s Richard Benson rightly points out, there was "no explicit reference of the massed antisemitic chanting that still takes place at grounds around the country". It just makes no sense and feels a little half-baked. It’s a bit like a recipe for chicken soup without the kneidels.
MGB’s Martin Berliner describes the report as "a step in the right direction". He asked me this week what would happen if all Jewish fans walked out of a ground during a game if antisemitic abuse took place, as one or two have recently. It would certainly raise enough eyebrows and make the super-rich clubs take note.
Jonathan Metliss, another long-standing campaigner against antisemitism in football, believes the biggest problem is that clubs are too concerned with the brand to take a stronger stance and alienate fans en masse. He’s not wrong. I believe the media also has a big part to play and was embarrassed to see a stupid training ground spat between a highly-paid Premier League player and manager make the backpages last week instead of Boateng – the real story.
It appears the authorities only react to such incidents as a kneejerk fashion when in reality, there must be proper guidelines and consistent penalties in place that will really hurt the perpetrators next time. The sad fact of the matter is we all know that when it comes to racism and antisemitism in football, there will definitely be a next time.
* So, Oldham chief Simon Corney is preparing for another crack at Liverpool in the FA Cup. Last year’s tie was marred by an ugly incident in which on-loan Oldham player Tom Adeyemi was racially abused by a fan at Anfield. Corney said: "Liverpool were superb about the whole thing and their supporters shouldn’t be tarnished for the actions of one silly person."
Commenting on Luis Suarez’s controversial winner in the last round, Corney added: "I’d have been devastated if we’d have gone out like that."
* FIFA have told me they will work with the Israel Football Association to find out why no vote was put forward from the national coach and captain at his week’s Ballon D’Or awards. FIFA contacted the IFA with regards to the online procedure well in advance but say the IFA failed to submit a vote before the November 15 deadline. IFA spokesman Michal Grundland says voting forms "did not arrive despite two requests". What a Messi!