Well Done Istanbul And PSG! By Dan Smith
I wrote a recent article giving my opinion on some fans booing players for ‘taking the knee‘. I had submitted the piece before the events in Paris.
Istanbul Başakşehir’s assistant manager accused the 4th official of making a racial comment towards him. Substitute Demba Ba could be heard asking, ‘why refer to him as that Black Man?’ When PSG players heard the allegations, they joined their rivals in walking off the pitch, never to return.
In one moment their actions did more for the fight against racism then any pre-match ritual, slogan, banner or shirt.
Football has always been guilty of being hypocritical. They say they have zero tolerance towards discrimination but take the cowards way when it’s time to take action.
England’s players didn’t have the courage to abandon their game with Bulgaria – and there was nothing ‘alleged’ about the abuse they received. Bulgarian fans were shown on TV making a Nazi salute while monkey chants were audible.
On that night, fulfilling your fixture obligation to appease networks, sponsors and FIFA was more important than zero tolerance.
Under zero pressure, the Bulgarian authorities were fined 75,000, less then Bendtner was fined for having sponsorship on his underwear. The FA then didn’t have the gumption to point out how soft was the punishment.
Then we wonder how Greg Clarke, paid thousands to be in charge of the English game, use the offensive words he did in front of MP’s?
It’s okay though, take a knee, wear a fancy wrist band! Actions speak louder than words ….
What the players did on Tuesday was they backed UEFA into a corner, especially by refusing to come back out.
If everyone had just walked over to the side of the pitch for a few minutes before playing on, the Governing body wouldn’t care this morning.
Instead they were forced to act, acutely aware that they had a worldwide audience and advertisers who won’t be happy the Champions League resorted to this.
That’s what zero tolerance is.
No ifs or buts, no excuses.
That’s what the two teams were insisting. In 2020, it’s unacceptable for anyone to be abused for the colour of their skin, so what are you in charge of the sport going to do about it?
Whether they are conscious of this or not, it helps the fight so much that it’s PSG making the stance. With great power comes great responsibility.
Neymar and Mbappe have all kinds of endorsement deals, insane social media numbers. These are the players UEFA can’t afford to be upsetting.
Sponsors are more likely to put pressure on EUFA if Neymar is accusing the product of racism, than say if it happened between Kiev vs Ferencvaros.
There’s always been talk of teams fearing points deductions for abandoning a game. Good luck taking on PSG’s owners!
It’s like the World Cup in Qatar. We are all aware of the unlawful labour practices that has transpired in building the stadiums, yet FIFA turn the other cheek. Imagine if a Ronaldo or Messi in protest refused to travel. Imagine the money FIFA would lose?
That’s sadly the only way to get some to listen, when they see they might lose money…
Cynically, you could argue this was a meaningless fixture for the visitors. Would they have done the same if this were 14 mins into a knockout tie?
It’s a start though.
And in 24 hours it’s been more impactful than a year of ‘taking a knee’.
Well done Istanbul and PSG!
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