Garry Birtles: Serbia fine is a joke, the last straw with Uefa
SO the message from football's hierarchy this week? Upsetting your sponsors is a worse offence than racism.
Nicolas Bendtner gets an £80k fine for daring to show pants that had a corporate logo on them.
Serbia's fans and players racially abuse and physically attack England's U21 players and they are only hit with a £65k fine. Just where is the logic in that? How can you explain that away?
Regular readers of this column will know I am not a big fan of Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini. In fact, that is something of an understatement.
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But this is the last straw. The handling of this latest situation is final proof that they are not the right people to control the game.
Here was a chance to send out a message, to say once and for all that racism is not acceptable; to demonstrate that those found guilty of it would be properly punished.
Instead, they have sent out the opposite message. With such paltry sanctions, they have more or less said that it is OK; they have sent out the message that racism will not be punished.
Two things annoyed me more than anything when Uefa published their explanation of the punishments that were handed out.
Firstly, the fact that the word 'racism' is never mentioned. The players and coaches were punished for their 'misconduct' rather than for demonstrating racist behaviour. And the conduct of the crowd went unmentioned.
The fact that Danny Rose and the other black England players had to listen to thousands of people making monkey noises and gestures at them was completely glossed over. As was the racist abuse from the opposition players.
Everyone who has seen the video clips of the game knows it happened. It is as clear as day. But not to Uefa.
Secondly, I cannot believe that Stephen Caulker and Tom Ince have also been punished, with two-match and one-match bans respectively. The only thing they were guilty of was defending their team mates. Nothing more, nothing less.
How they have been hit with equal punishments to some of the Serbia players is beyond me. But sadly, it is not a surprise.
That is the worst thing about it. While we might have all been hoping that Uefa would send out the right message; deep down, we know that they would not.
The world was watching to see what would happen here and, once again, the opportunity was missed. Uefa and Platini bottled it.
For me, enough is enough. I don't know how we achieve it, I don't know if it is possible, but if Platini and Blatter cannot unite to force racism out of the game, then the rest of football has to join forces to get rid of them and find somebody who will.