Thursday, January 26, 2006

Clubs to lose points for racist actions

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has put forth another idea for fighting the racist actions of players and fans. He feels that fines are not working so he would like to see clubs penalized in the standings.

"I am so disappointed. It is a shame for football that in the year 2006, you still have racism." "The only way to fight this is to do exactly what we have done when it came to violence," Blatter said. "We have to take away the points because it happens in those leagues where the money is sufficient so, even if you gave a fine of $100,000, it would be paid the next day. That does not change the attitude, so you have to go into a sporting sanction."

I think it is disgusting that racism is still alive and well in soccer or any other part of life, but I am concerned about this proposal.

There are really two parts to this idea A) racist actions undertaken by players and B) racist actions undertaken by fans.

My concern is with policing this policy. Racist actions by players are pretty easy to sort out. They are known and the focus of events, but I still think any rule would have to be very well defined. I would hate to see someone do something stupid but not intended as racist (act like cockroaches after scoring a goal) only to have someone else claim that that was a racist slur against them. Still, I think this one is easy enough to work out proved it is defined and used equally across leagues regardless of their status.

As far as fans, this gets a little harder. If one idiot yells something stupid, is that enough to invoke the rule? If the team has that fan removed from the stadium, does that cancel any action? What if the remark is made in the final moments of a match and the team doesn't have time to get the fool out before the final whistle is blown? What if a group of fans from some other team show up at a match just to say idiotic things in the hopes of getting points taken away from this club?

I'm sure that these things could be figured out, but again, it would have to be well defined and used equally no matter what team is responsible.

Ultimately, you cannot legislate away racism. I think you can educate away, but I don't think he can enact a rule to end an idea. If someone is going to hate just because (fill in blank here), then they are going to hate.

What this rule might be able to do is cut down on certain chants that fans use that are smothered in racism. These chants are often used not because the people who are currently saying them are racists, but instead they are used because of their historical attachment to the club (otherwise known as tradition). Does that make it right? In my opinion, no. If this rule is going after those types of actions, I think it could work because it is easier to stop something like that (large scale, ie a whole stadium chanting).

So to sum up my ramble, this is an interesting idea and I'm glad to see people looking at the problem. However, I hope that any rule is thought out enough to make it worthwhile and not cause a backlash.


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