After another round of Champions League fixtures we once again find criticism directed toward UEFA. My own contempt for the corrupt and hypocritical organisation is well noted. Now some Manchester City fans are canvassing for supporters to turn their backs during the Champions League anthem at the next three European games. Whilst I support any movement against UEFA and their ideology, City fans have to be clear on the reasons why they are turning their backs, and why they are choosing to do it now.
Every time I have written about Financial Fair Play the strong undercurrent has been a dislike toward UEFA. That particular system is anything but fair, they weren’t acting as caring overseers, the system wouldn’t even have prevented a Leeds or Portsmouth situation. It reeked of corruption, ensuring the status quo in football for the European “Big Boys.” They traversed the boundaries of sport and business, failing to ensure clarity or complete legality with either.
When they issued fines, this captured cash wasn’t distributed into grass root schemes, struggling lower league clubs, or even charities. It was fed back to the compliant clubs playing at the top European level. They should have already been filtering money from their vast profits, across all of Europe, to the smaller clubs that facilitate emerging players within the lower leagues. Instead of being a benevolent group they have edged ever closer to a Fascist regime bordering on evil Totalitarianism. They dangle high prize money for their premier competition whilst threatening handcuffs for those that can compete with healthy cash.
It’s only now, after the event and sanctions imposed on Manchester City and PSG, that UEFA have even considered clubs, such as Manchester United, facing questions over loans that form part of their finances. These help highlight that UEFA doesn’t care about fairness. In a democracy, argument and counter-argument are heard equally, then an agreed system is formed. UEFA rule with an iron-fist. Bully and ignore as they please. If they cared about the health of the sport, of the people within the game, they wouldn’t have allowed Poland and Ukraine to spend billions to host the European championships, then face ruin. There should be a moral obligation to protect clubs or national associations from such grotesque overspend. But as long as UEFA are dangling the carrot they’re hardly likely to tire of the tease.
It’s ruling with such an iron-fist which makes remarks made after the “behind closed doors” CSKA Moscow v Manchester City Champions League tie, all the more ridiculous. CSKA were the ones facing a punishment for racist behaviour. Yet, on the night, they somehow had around 600 fans in the stadium. As City captain Vincent Kompany asked: “You say no fans, all of a sudden you turn up and the team that has no fans is Man City. So who’s getting punished? Who’s being done for racism, Man City or Moscow?”
It’s almost a rhetorical question. Clearly the punishment also affected Manchester City, perhaps to a greater degree. I am not suggesting, nor is anyone associated with the club even as they launch a complaint, that the Moscow fans swayed the match. But the principle of the matter is what makes it note worthy. It’s almost a sick joke when UEFA claim there was no breach. That club delegations, media, security staff, UEFA and guests of sponsorship partners are allowed into behind closed door matches. It’s that last one on the list that tells the story: Sponsorship Partners. Greedy UEFA. Always money over morals.
They claim they can’t dictate who those guests are. They make the rules and shirk the responsibility all too often. If UEFA stated only people in pink shirts could enter, guess what, we’d all be wearing pink shirts or face being ejected from our seats. They obviously need clubs, media and security there. But they could have prevented guests of sponsors. They may have lost some cash, but is money from one game’s set of guests more important than a solid stance against racism?
To UEFA it probably is. This is an organisation that threatened action against players if they walked from the field of play during racist chants, then applauded that action when the world supported AC Milan for doing just that. They are so out of touch with public opinion and common decency that their judgement can no longer be trusted. City shouldn’t have been playing that came in Moscow in front of 600 CSKA fans. It should have been in a neutral country’s stadium filled to the rafters with Blues. But they don’t really care about racism, half the time they come across as if the subject is an awkward annoyance to them; and they don’t care about Manchester City, we’re like the one-legged ginger step-child that needs glasses.
So as a City fan (I also happen to have been a step-child, ginger, and a wearer of spectacles) we face the decision to turn our backs when UEFA play their anthem. I agree with the sentiment. The debacle in Russia is the straw that has broken the camel’s back for many a Blue. However, I’m worried it puts City fans on dangerous ground. Surely the time for a stance against UEFA was at the first Champions League game. The droplets of faeces we’ve had on us this week are just spray from a larger, on-going, shower.
To make a stand now we risk looking bitter. That our disappointing result is more to do with the turning of backs than UEFA’s actions. Too much focus is placed on the Champions League. For me the measure of a team’s greatness is domestic success. When both Liverpool and Chelsea last claimed UEFA’s top prize they failed to secure a top four finish at home. However, the world sees it different. City’s owners see it different. Had City already secured a Champions League trophy, a stand against UEFA would hold much more weight. Instead there’s a risk our positive defiance will be pushed away with nonchalance.
Over the coming weeks we need to articulate all our grievances regarding UEFA to prevent our protest appearing two-faced. At the moment UEFA stand unopposed, everyone is bending to their rules, the rules bending further to support the evil regime. If people do take notice we need to have a clear message: That UEFA needs to change or be replaced entirely.