It was not quite as astounding as what went on in the global economy, but the week in football was certainly an eventful one.
I was certainly dumbfounded, but perhaps should not have been, by FIFA’s woeful CHF 30,000 ($27,500) fine for the Croatian FA after their fans made monkey noises at black England players last month. That was the minimum fine according to Dominoqq Online FIFA’s disciplinary code. Why wasn’t it more, please?
This was not the first time Croatian fans have been found guilty of racism – most recently by UEFA at Euro 2008, so when o when will the soccer authorities accept these weak punishments are no deterrent? FIFA and UEFA anti-racism campaigns are not worth toffee if this is how they react to racist behaviour at their events.
Next in significance for me was the news that Poland & Ukraine have been reprieved as Euro 2012 hosts, even if the Polish FA have been forcibly taken over by the Warsaw government.
Poland was supposed to be the safer hands of the pair, with Ukraine struggling to improve its dilapidated infrastructure and build a new stadium in Kiev for the final. Three and a half years will evaporate in an instant, so UEFA are taking a huge risk. The 36-hour train ride with two changes from Gdansk to Donetsk still looks a bridge too far for fans.
With this news came the announcement that Euro 2016 will have 24 teams, as many as played in USA ’94. Plus, South Africa revealed Zakumi the leopard as the 12th World Cup mascot, continuing a tradition which began with World Cup Willie in 1966. We all know World Cup 2010 is Sepp Blatter’s baby, but was it him or Zakumi being described in the official literature – “He loves to perform…yet sometimes has the tendency to exaggerate a bit….Over the last years he has travelled the whole of Africa…and wants to make as many friends as possible…He may suddenly fall asleep on the spot at the most random times!” -?
UEFA boss Michel Platini was in fine form slagging off Arsene Wenger in the most acerbic terms, but he has a point: The Arsenal coach has zero sensitivity to the needs of national teams or domestic football traditions. He is, as Platini said, essentially no different to a businessman, morally blind in the pursuit of his personal goals, ignorant of the bigger picture.
In England, the calamity that is Newcastle persists, with everyone turning down the job before Joe Kinnear was hauled out of retirement to pilot the unsteerable ship. Meanwhile, West Ham were the victim of an unprecedented 30-million pound fine for the Carlos Tevez affair. Serve them right, too. They must have known there was something dodgy about Kia Joorabchian and surely misled the FA about the transfer details. FA Chief Lord Triesman put it quite succinctly:
“If it is going to go through the courts it is going to drag on and on. It would be much simpler for people to observe the rules of football.”
Finally, hats off again to Roy Keane. After savaging ‘Pirate of the Caribbean’ Jack Walker, the Celtic Tiger of Sunderland said he “will not tolerate” some of his fans. Watch this space…