UEFA’s justice

When I moved to Barcelona in 1989 one of the first things that struck me about Barça’s followers was an apparent paranoia towards football’s authorities. Leagues had been lost due to biased refereeing and the powers that be were constantly conspiring against the Catalan club in favour of their darlings Real Madrid.

As an outsider I saw this as the typical feeling of many football fans who find it impossible to be objective about refereeing decisions. It seemed reasonable to believe that under Franco’s dictatorship there might have been favoritism but surely since the restoration of democracy things were now fair and above board.

Over the years Real Madrid seem to benefit practically every season from more penalty decisions in their favour. However, perhaps because I believe that if you lose you should look at your own mistakes rather than blaming bad luck or external forces, I have always preferred to ignore the conspiracy theories.

Unfortunately, some things are impossible to explain without the involvement of some behind-the-scenes power, and UEFA’s decision yesterday to fine Barça €40,000 falls into this category. Barça have been fined due to UEFA’s rules which prohibit political symbols and the booing of anthems after fans raised the Catalan Independence flag, La Estelada, at the recent Champions League game with Bayer Leverkusen.

The rules may be in place to stop racial abuse and incitement to violence but this is clearly not the case here. Just as there was no violence at the Champions League Final when Barça were fined for the same reason, the game with Leverkusen was completely peaceful. The fact that Atlético Madrid were fined only €11,000 and Benfica only €20,000 for the violent incidents and flare throwing at their recent game demonstrates either an appalling incompetence in UEFA’s fight against violence in the game or something more sinister which some friends insist is an anti-Barça campaign.

The harshness of the FIFA transfer ban is more evidence that they are out to get us. The problem with this paranoia is we end up sensing underhand behaviour in everything. It’s not just every penalty that we are denied or Madrid are awarded, it is the tax cases against Barça players and the accusations of irregularities in the Neymar transfer deal.

Barça may not be as squeaky clean as we would like to believe but UEFA are clearly mistaken in this latest case. The lower fines for Atlético and Benfica, where it’s not too much to say that somebody could have been killed, clearly show the authorities care less about our safety when we go to football matches than they care about controlling our freedom of expression and defending their own image.

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3 Responses to UEFA’s justice

  1. Excuse my French but “mothef@$$ers will be motherf@$$ers”!

    It was obvious to me that something was a bit of a miss to me when I first became a fan of FCB.

    As someone who has traveled across Spain, I know of the DEEP HATE most of the rest of Spain has for Catalans, in general, and FCB in particular.

    This has permeated into UEFA. I am not surprised at all. All it does is just make me want to win and I in it all as long as there is football on God’s green Earth. BARCA is hate for being a Catalan club and Catalunya is hated for wanting out of Spain.

  2. Fredegar says:

    Hi Nic,
    Firstly, just a word to tell you I certainly will miss your match reports and previews, but I’m looking forward to your opinion pieces. I’ve liked your balanced take on all things Barcelona since the FCBNews days, and mostly hope you will not stop to write about the club cos’ that would be a loss!

    Then about this paranoia, a few points. 40’000 Euros is not much, even if it’s the double of other fines. If I park my car badly, the cost of the fine here in Switzerland will be between 0,5 and 1% of my monthly revenue, here the fine is around 1/1000 of the monthly revenue of the club so I wouldn’t read too much about it.
    The transfer ban is a far bigger worry for me, cos’ 1) even if it’s derided as having no effect, we can clearly see it damages our chances this season, far more than any fine 2) I can’t believe we are the sole culprits when you see what English clubs do with their youngsters or even what happens to lower echelon clubs here in Switzerland, so I’m worried UEFA wanted to make an example of us, and frankly that doesn’t smell good.
    On the other hand, I don’t forget conspiracy theories can go both ways, and the Madrid media have never failed to come with their own, like the Villarato. We can’t deny that we are also pretty often advantaged by refs, what’s at play here IMO is that mostly, big clubs will be advantaged, it’s just that Real Madrid’s stature and position in Spain will probably mean they are slightly more advantaged than we are.
    All in all, my far from definitive conclusion would be that Madrid are clearly protected in Spain, that UEFA went strongly against us with their transfer ban, but that if there was a conspiracy against us, we would certainly not have enjoyed the success we have enjoyed these last ten years.

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