Monday, 6 January 2014

Nothing ever happens, nothing happens at all. The world game needs a moral backbone

The lawyer and the footballer are out of their depth. Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini are treading water while the world game swirls around them.

Bigotry and corruption consume their tooth-decayed organisations and both are exposed as weak and ineffectual.

And that's even before considering the vacuum of leadership at our own Football Association. 

England has been challenged by an act of antiestablishment fascist defiance in a Premier League fixture. 

Nicolas Anelka gave a quenelle salute, reviled by most French society, when scoring for West Bromwich Albion on the 28th December. Three weeks into the New Year and the FA finally acted on what is a very serious transgression committed by Anelka.

Copycat quenelle's have been performed at Jewish holy places, next to unknowing victims and even by Samir Nasri at Manchester City's training ground entrance.

Weak Albion insisted Anelka should play until the FA sanction him, knowing full well he'd be charged and punished, because in their words it caused offence only in "some quarters".

Imagine if one these salutes were performed at Churchill's statue or Big Ben? Anelka and Nasri's vile action are a clear challenge to British society too and it seems, everyone with the power to do something would rather look the other way.

"Nothing ever happens, nothing happens at all. They'll burn down the synagogues at 6 o'clock and we'll all go along like before". 

Football has a leadership crisis and the search for strong, politically-savvy, incorruptible heavyweights ready to confront the problems should begin now.

FIFA is almost beyond redemption. The discredited Executive Committee sold its soul to a medieval political ideology and Russian gangsters. And the only guarantee about Brazil's World Cup is most of the football will be crap.

But UEFA has a realistic chance of doing something constructive, positive and enlightened.

The quality of football in the Champions League elevates UEFA not just to the top of world football but to represent a constituency of interest and people almost to a level of church or nation and a mandate to combat racism - the biggest challenge to football since hooliganism in the 80’s.

Every year persistent racism, mostly but not exclusively from the east, diminishes world football’s outstanding competition. Its destructive power is a stain on the continent and its nationhood and if UEFA refuses to get tough with the imbeciles they will end up ruining it for the rest of us.

There are many examples but here are two illustrations of how useless UEFA are.

In March last year Manchester City players Mario Balotelli and Yaya Toure were subjected to monkey  chants during a game at Porto.

The next month City were ‘up to 60 seconds’ late returning to the pitch during half time of the game at Sporting Lisbon.

UEFA fined City more - 50% more - than Porto.

In October 2012 England Under 21’s played a European championship qualifier in Serbia.

England’s black players were racially abused THROUGHOUT the game. At the final whistle fans invaded the pitch and scuffles broke out.

Serbia are serial offenders yet the Serbian FA escaped with a £65,000 fine. Four players and two coaching staff were suspended and ordered Serbia U21’s to play their next match behind closed doors. UEFA also suspended three black England players.

So much for UEFA’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards racism.

Eight clubs have been ordered to play games in closed or partially closed stadiums because of racist chanting in the first four months of THIS SEASON.

The problem is growing and UEFA’s refusal to ban clubs and countries from tournaments sends the wrong message.

UEFA argue the punishments are line with their rule book. Well, it’s your organisation why not introduce different rules?

And it is no use looking to the President for leadership. Michel Platini was one of those on FIFA’s Executive Committee who voted for a summer World Cup in Qatar because France’s President at the time, Nicolas Sarkozy, told him to.

The President of UEFA ignored what was best for football and voted for Qatar because it was in the best interests of France and Paris St Germain who were subsequently bought by Qatar.

Is it co-incidence that Platini’s lawyer son, Laurent,  then landed a highly paid job with Qatari Sports Investments?

Does Michel Platini strike you as the strong, politically-savvy, incorruptible heavyweight we need to take on the cancer of racism?

Do you feel safe in the hands of football's administrators when dumb players show such defiance? 

Me neither.