Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 6 No. 211

Leagues and Governing Bodies

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has said that he will "discuss the widely criticised sanction" levied on Serbia's Under-21 team with UEFA President Michel Platini, and called for "strong, harsh punishment when it comes to racism and discrimination," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. Platini is "believed to be seriously considering an appeal against the decision" of UEFA's independent disciplinary panel after it fined Serbia €80,000 ($105,000) and ordered "one match to be played behind closed doors" as punishment for racist chants from the crowd and violence on the pitch during and after their European Under-21 Championship against England in October. Blatter said, "I will take up a discussion with the president of UEFA, but I don't know if he has an influence on his disciplinary committee. We will ask details of the file but I repeat we have it in our organisation that there must be very, very strong, strong punishment." Platini will fly back from Japan on Monday and "has three days from receiving the file to decide whether to appeal" the decision of UEFA's committee. The English FA has "already indicated they will appeal the decision" to suspend players Steven Caulker and Thomas Ince for their part in the fracas (GUARDIAN, 12/15). In London, Dickinson & Ducker reported FA Chair David Bernstein expressed his dismay over UEFA's "weak sanctions against Serbia" in a phone call with Platini. Kick It Out Chair Herman Ouseley described Serbia's punishment as "paltry" and has called for matches to be stopped if there is racist chanting. Ouseley: "Games should be stopped and sections of the crowd who are behaving badly should be shown the door" (LONDON TIMES, 12/15).

FIFPRO, PFA SPEAK OUT:  In London, Scott-Elliot reported a number of Premier League managers as well as the Professional FA and global player representatives FIFPro "added their voices to those already condemning the level of punishment." PFA CEO Gordon Taylor is writing to Platini calling for "stronger action" while FIFPro General Secretary Theo van Seggelen said his members "can no longer accept the abuses in Eastern Europe. The image of pro football is at stake." Show Racism the Red Card CEO Geb Grebby said, "UEFA have shown yet again that they do not take racism seriously, despite claiming to take a 'zero tolerance' approach to racism, the sanctions faced by the Serbian Football Association are an insult to the England players who were subjected to violence and racist abuse throughout the game." The PFA "similarly see it as an opportunity missed to issue a deterrent." Taylor: "This is a totally inadequate fine which sends a very poor message out to the football world" (INDEPENDENT, 12/15).

HARSHER PENALTIES NEEDED: Also in London, Rob Liddle opined a UEFA independent panel, "presumably wearing pointy white hoods and robes, effectively exonerated the Balkan savages." One game to be played in front of no spectators and a fine of £65,000 ($105,000) -- "just a little less than Nicklas Bendtner was fined for wearing the logo of his sponsor on his underpants." It is "utterly unacceptable for black players to receive the sort of racist abuse which they received in Serbia and which, habitually, is directed towards them at all points from Cadiz to Kiev." The Serbian business was "made all the worse by the bare-faced denials that any form of racism was directed towards the likes of England’s Danny Rose." In a sense, the Serbs’ response was "worse than the original offence, in that it sort of officially condoned racism." Which is where our own Football Association comes in. It should tell FIFA and UEFA that it will "play no matches in Serbia, for an indefinite period, unless a stringent punishment is imposed and the Serbs, to the best of their abilities, will guarantee that black players will henceforth be subjected to no racist abuse whatsoever" (SUNDAY TIMES, 12/16).

A FIFA report into match-fixing in the weeks before the 2010 World Cup has found "compelling evidence" that one or more friendly games involving host South Africa were fixed ahead of the the event, according to the AP. The South African Football Association conceded that it had been "infiltrated" two years ago by now-convicted match-fixer Wilson Perumal and his "bogus" company Football4U -- "which was actually a front for Asian betting syndicates." No players have been implicated in fixing matches but referees appointed by Perumal's Football4U were thought to have "manipulated one or more of South Africa's World Cup buildup games for betting markets." SAFA added that Perumal "could have been aided by some South African officials." SAFA CEO Robin Petersen said, "The full extent of the web of international crime is now exposed" (AP, 12/16).

FIFA President Sepp Blatter described the organization's decision to grant Indonesia an extension to solve its football crisis as a "Christmas gift," urging the nation to get its "house in order," according to the AFP. Football in Indonesia has been "in turmoil for the past two years" because of a row between the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) and its rival the Indonesian Soccer Rescue Committee (KPSI). FIFA had given PSSI a Dec. 10 deadline to "reconcile its differences" with KPSI, which runs a rebel league splitting the nation's top teams, but the regulator's exec committee on Friday "extended the deadline by three months." Blatter said, "It has been two years now, two years that they have tried to put together the two parts of the football organizations, but they couldn't do it. They have asked for another three months to be given, until March next year, and also the Asian Football Confederation was advocating that. I think it was quite a Christmas gift to Indonesia that they haven't been suspended" (AFP, 12/15). The JAKARTA POST reported that FIFA had initially given Dec. 10 as the deadline for the conflicting parties to stage a national congress to settle key issues, including the existence of two separate soccer leagues and federations, a review of PSSI statutes and the reinstatement of four expelled executive committee members: La Nyalla, Tony Apriliani, Erwin Dwi Budiawan and Roberto Rouw. However, both parties "staged separate national congresses on Monday, with the PSSI deciding to reinstate the four committee members but only if the four delivered apologies to the association within a month." The four members were expelled from the committee last year for "ethical violations." La Nyalla had previously said he would never apologize to the PSSI (JAKARTA POST, 12/14). REUTERS reported the deadlock prompted intervention from exasperated government officials in a bid to restore order and Blatter "made no bones about the fact Indonesia was walking a tightrope." Blatter said, "It was time, in my opinion, to say 'stop it now', but the executive committee was of the opinion to give them three more months." Indonesia faces being "booted out of all int'l competition, its referees also becoming ineligible, while FIFA would also cut its financial assistance to the PSSI" (REUTERS, 12/16).