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The role of football authorities - 03/10/2003

The role of football authorities
Months later and he's still waiting
   Sol Campbell
   Eric Djemba-Djemba

It was good to hear that UEFA have punished both Macedonia and Serbia & Montenegro after recent incidents of racism. It’s a serious problem that needs serious actions to address it. However, whilst I’m happy that these steps have been taken, I’m frustrated and disappointed that UEFA now state they are investigating the behaviour of the Welsh fans during the Italy game. You only have to read the report posted below to realise that the problems were started by the Italians. I’ve also heard that Newcastle supporters endured a similar experience when they played Milan in the Champions League last season. There’s obviously a problem with policing at the San Siro so it needs to be looked at and sorted out. You can’t help feeling that having taken action against a powerful nation such as Italy, they’ve tried to appease them with the investigation into Welsh behaviour – where is their backbone?

Looking closer to home, and speaking as a player and a PFA member, I can’t believe that it’s taken so long for the FA to set a date for Sol Campbell’s hearing after the Charity Shield incident with Djemba Djemba. You know, the game is in danger of turning into a non-contact sport, and whilst we do need to encourage skill and offer protection to technical players, we need to understand that this is a passionate game and both supporters and players like it that way. In high profile, high pressure games, things can get overheated and instead of trying to make the game a non-contact sport, I feel the FA should spending their time in a more productive fashion - for example helping to reduce racism.

Looking at the Charity Shield incident, you have to say that the referee saw what happened and he, as the appointed Official, is entrusted to deal with incident. If, the FA then turn around and say they’ll also look at video evidence, then they’re having two bites of the cherry – they call this 'double jeopardy'  in legal terms! If they’re going to rely on video evidence, then instead of harking back to an incident that happened months ago, bring it in for important match decisions that can turn games.

Football is a game played and loved by supporters and players, yes we have a responsibility to act professionally, but let’s not loose sight of the fact that this is a passionate game. The FA do not need to become moral guardians, they need to administer the game with understanding of players pressure and passion - for the good of the game.



BBC Sport Report

Uefa punishes Italy

Italy and Serbia & Montenegro have been punished for the behaviour of their supporters in Euro 2004 qualifiers against Wales.

The Macedonia FA has also been fined £11,000 after their fans racially abused several England players and burned an English flag on 6 September. The Football Association of Wales, however, has reacted angrily to claims that their own fans acted improperly during the defeat to Italy earlier this month. Uefa has fined the Italian Football Federation £27,000 for "a serious lack of security that led to crowd disturbances" during the match in Milan in September. Welsh supporters claim they were spat on and pelted by bottles and coins from Italian fans inside the San Siro. But European football bosses also said disciplinary proceedings have been opened into "the improper conduct of Welsh supporters at the match".

A small section of Welsh fans clashed with police inside the stadium after complaining about the behaviour of Italian fans. The FAW insist that the vast majority of the 8,000 Welsh fans were the victims of a sustained barrage from Italian fans sitting in the tier above them - an area they wanted to be left empty. "I am amazed they are going to investigate us now," said match secretary Mark Evans. "I feel that the vast majority of Welsh fans behaved with admirable restraint under severe provocation. "Basically they were trying to leave the stadium to get away from the constant barrage of everything from bottles, gas cans, mobile phones, even bottles with urine in them, that were being thrown on them from Italian fans above. "But we understand that the police would not let them leave or did anything to protect them. Children were being hurt and what you had was parents in a panic trying to get their families out of the stadium. "I feel that 99% of our fans behaved with great restraint in the circumstances."

Group Nine opponents Serbia & Montenegro have been fined £11,000 "for the racist conduct of its supporters" during last August's match against Wales and the under-21 side. Wales' black players Danny Gabbidon, Nathan Blake and Robert Earnshaw were target by the Serbia fans in Belgrade, and goalkeeper Jason Brown was abused during the Wales under-21 match the night before. Brown told BBC Sport he was glad to see Uefa taking a stand against racism in football. "You can't put a price tag on anything like that, but it's good to see Uefa acting because there are so many people who get away with it," said Brown. "I thought Serbia would get away with it to be honest, but it's good to see Uefa have done something about it. "Hopefully this will be a benchmark and it will help to stamp it out of the game."


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