MICAH RICHARDS: If only UEFA cared as much about racism as they do about money – their track record in tackling the issues that matter has been dreadful and have failed to follow through with meaningful action
- UEFA were rocked by the attempted, and failed, European Super League
- UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin used some powerful rhetoric talking of ‘snakes’ and ‘liars’ in describing the attempts made by the 12 breakaway clubs
- But when it comes to racism it feels like he is reading from a prepared script
- It was an absolute joke that Glen Kamara got banned for three games for defending himself post-match after being racially abused by Ondrej Kudela
- Patrick Bamford’s comments on Monday about tackling racism were spot on
The first place to start at the end of a week like no other is with a thank you to Patrick Bamford. His words on Monday night were incredible – if you aren’t aware of what he said, let me fill you in.
‘It’s amazing the things they are talking about. I can’t quite comprehend it,’ he said. ‘It’s amazing the amount of opera that comes into the game when somebody’s pockets are being hurt. It’s a shame it’s not like that when other things are going wrong at the minute, like racism. It’s just how it is.’
Bamford rightly received a lot of love for his sentiments. A simple view like that from a white person carries so much more weight than if I, for instance, had said it. He didn’t rant, he just said what he wanted and it was all done so effortlessly.
Patrick Bamford was brilliant on Monday when speaking out against the need to tackle racism
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin was quick to speak out against the botched European Super League this week but his organisation doesn’t act as swiftly when it comes to racism
The more I thought about what Patrick highlighted and the more I tried to process what had happened around the six clubs’ attempts to break away into the European Super League, the angrier I became.
Enough has been written about the desire of Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and my own club, Manchester City, to make more money and forget about traditions. Like everyone else, I was flabbergasted by the move.
City have been aspiring to win the Champions League for several years, so I struggled to comprehend how we could now want to turn our backs on a competition that has become an obsession for the club. It was so unbelievably disappointing. But let’s not for one minute think that UEFA are some sort of innocent victims in this whole affair.
These are the moments when people show their true colours. Patrick showed himself to be a class act but UEFA? As soon as their revenue streams were threatened, they sprang into action. Aleksander Ceferin, UEFA’s president, used some powerful rhetoric talking of ‘snakes’ and ‘liars’.
You could not disguise the emotion in Ceferin’s language, as he considered the implications of some of the biggest clubs in the world turning their backs on European football’s governing body. Strange, really. When Ceferin talks about racism, it feels like he is reading from a prepared script.
When Ceferin speaks about racism it feels like he is reading from a prepared script
I’m not suggesting Ceferin is racist. But his organisation’s track record in tackling the issues that matter has been dreadful. Whenever racism has been involved, UEFA have failed to follow through with meaningful action.
They can argue that they are being pro-active in the fight but I will never forget that this is the organisation that fined Nicklas Bendtner £80,000 for showing a bookmaker’s branding on his boxer shorts at Euro 2012 but only fined Serbia £65,000 when England’s Under 21 players were racially abused that same year.
Look at what happened this month with the Slavia Prague defender Ondrej Kudela and Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara. UEFA thought 10 games was a sufficient ban for Kudela – 10 games? It was one of the most sinister examples of racism I have seen, sliding up to Kamara and whispering in his ear.
Kamara ended up with a three-match suspension for an incident that happened afterwards in the tunnel. So when this young lad goes through one of the worst experiences he has endured on a football pitch and wants to defend himself, UEFA still want to punish him.
What an absolute joke that is. Two wrongs don’t make a right but if Ceferin – who people say is a good guy – had five per cent of the passion when challenging racism as he had when taking on those clubs who had plotted against UEFA, the sport would be in a better place.
Glen Kamara (left) was racially abused by Ondrej Kudela (right) in the Europa League
Kamara claimed he was called ‘a f****** monkey’ by Kudela who covered up his mouth to insult
UEFA also threatened players that they would be banned from playing for their country at this summer’s Euros if their club was among the European Super League rebels.
Just think about that for a minute. Players who had done absolutely nothing wrong whatsoever were going to be punished because UEFA were panicking about the impact on their finances. That made me so angry – how can money mean so much to these people?
Look at UEFA’s plans to revamp the Champions League, with more games added, and tell me it’s about improving the quality of the competition. We all know it isn’t. It’s about revenues, plain and simple.
I don’t pretend to be perfect. I don’t want to come across as if I am preaching or like I’m trying to be a politician. I’m just a normal guy who loves football and I’m always willing to learn about subjects.
Pierre Webo (right), Istanbul Basaksehir’s assistant manager, was livid when he was allegedly identified as ‘the black one over there’ by the fourth official during their clash with PSG
Sebastian Coltescu was accused of using the word ‘negru’ – Romanian for ‘black’ – to identify Webo and has subsequently be banned by UEFA for the remainder of the season as a result
Unfortunately, though, from time to time there will be an incident like this that leaves you in despair. I was so upset by the way the European Super League was announced and I felt let down that the owners of the six clubs involved hadn’t considered the feelings of their fans.
But don’t kid yourselves that these six are the only ones who have made mistakes this week. There has been hypocrisy left, right and centre and none more so than from the organisation that felt most under threat by it all.
So, again, let me thank you, Patrick Bamford. Thank you for showing empathy and understanding and wanting to make a difference. Thank you for saying how it is, that money is the only thing that matters to those in charge. You said something so subtle. You ended up opening a lot of eyes.
Jose paid price for backing his defence
The first time I came up against Jose Mourinho, he left a lasting impression. I slid in for a tackle during a Manchester City game against Chelsea right in front of him. As I was getting up, he looked down at me, winked and said: ‘Top player, top player.’
It made a big impression and, since then, I’ve always liked to see him do well. I was disappointed, then, to see him lose his job with Tottenham and the timing of the decision to get shot of him before the League Cup final was ridiculous.
When he starts to analyse where it went wrong, I believe he will kick himself for saying that he was happy with his squad. The great Mourinho teams were built on the foundations of a great defence and Tottenham do not have great defenders.
Mourinho, I think, overestimated the quality he was going to work with and he could never get the balance right. I said a few months ago that they had a chance of finishing in the top four if Gareth Bale clicked with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min but losing at Arsenal was a massive setback.
His critics are saying he is now a bad manager. Others have said he took a bad job. I thought he was going to have a bit more to spend to address the areas that were required. He leaves them in sixth place. With the squad they have got, they are where they should be.
The timing of Jose Mourinho’s sacking as Tottenham manager is ridiculous and I wish him well
Micah’s Man of the Week
A final word on the European Super League. It cannot go unnoticed how the players stood up to oppose it and nobody expressed the sentiments better than Jordan Henderson, who organised a collective response from Liverpool’s squad.
He got the tone of his words bang on. Then again, he does it every time.
He is a true leader whose importance for club and country must never be underestimated.
Jordan Henderson is a true leader whose importance must never be underestimated
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