UEFA Doesn't Discriminate Between Racists
In case you thought racism disappeared when Obama became President and The Green Book won an Oscar, think again.
Yesterday’s qualifying match between England and Bulgaria was stopped twice due to racist behaviour by Bulgarian fans. The abuse included Nazi salutes and ‘monkey noises’ by fans whenever a black player had the ball.
Some fans even found time otherwise spent doing community service or graffitiing trains to print T-shirts that say “no-respect”. Say what you will about today’s racists, but they’re definitely self-aware.
Ironically, Bulgaria’s coach claimed England had a much bigger racism problem, just days before the match.
Good job UEFA has a three-step protocol in place to deal with discrimination during matches, although that does speak to the calibre of people they expect at these games.
After a bit of racism, the referee will ask supporters to stop.
A little more racism and the players briefly leave the stadium. Then the referee reminds the fans that the first time was fun and games, but that they should really stop now.
After a third try, it becomes too hard for UEFA to explain why they have these people at these games, so they usually abandon the match altogether.
In this incident, UEFA didn’t make it past the first step. This should make it clear to all the Bulgarian fans that they should bring something better than just a Hitler salute. Everyone does those nowadays.
Responses to the incident were mixed from both sides of the pitch.
Bulgaria’s goalkeeper and coach both said they were “unable to hear any racist chanting” and claimed the fans were on good behaviour. Not setting their standards spectacularly high there and the same can be said for their football as they lost 6-0.
Boris Johnson also issued a statement. Although this time, not one where he calls Muslim women letterboxes or black people’ picanninies’. Instead, he called on the UEFA to act swiftly.
And, act swiftly they did. Today the UEFA issued a statement saying both Bulgaria and England would be charged with misbehaving during the football match. It turns out the England fans disrupted Bulgaria’s national anthem at the beginning of the game, and that the Football Association did not bring enough ‘‘travelling stewards’.
Perhaps UEFA just wanted to make sure the English racists wouldn’t feel judged purely because of where they are from.