There was a spectacular finish to yesterday’s UEFA U21 Championship Play-Off match between Serbia and England. The problem is that the spectacle took place after the final whistle had blown.
For 93 minutes England held on to a narrow 1-0 lead which they had earned in the first leg on English soil on 12 October. Then, in stoppage time, as a last ditch attempt to get a goal and force the extra period, the Serbs sent their keeper up on a set piece. England bravely defended again and on the counter attack scored the only goal of the game as Connor Wickham rolled the ball into the empty net.
What happened next is not up for debate. Enraged by the fact that their under 21 team had just been knocked out of the tournament, the Serbian supporters went apeshit, literally. They started throwing objects onto the field and making monkey noises at any black player who came near them. Meanwhile, the Serbian coaching staff responded to this fan violence in the only way that makes any sense, by headbutting a member of the England staff.
England player Danny Rose heard the monkey chants directed at him and kicked a ball into the stands out of anger. Naturally, the referee, hearing the monkey chants directed at a black player and seeing the stadium on the verge of a race riot, reacted in the only way that makes any sense and gave Danny Rose a red card and had the player escorted off the pitch under a hail of monkey chants, audible in this fan-taken video:
The Danny Rose video went viral within minutes of the final whistle and before the players’ boots were cleaned of the filth they had just been forced to walk through, UEFA published their match report. Here’s a screen grab of the report from 16 October, 22:36 CET.
Note that nowhere in the report do they mention missiles being thrown on the field, the riot that nearly happened, the Serbian coaching staff attacking the English staff, nor the disgusting racism that everyone endured.
No, instead, the initial UEFA report only ever refers to the poisonous atmosphere at the stadium in positive terms. Calling them “the well-supported home team” and their supporters “fervent home fans”. And what of the near race-riot that happened? “The only negative for England was that Rose saw red for a second yellow.”
I say initial report because within moments of me pointing out that their report was employing Newsspeak they ninja edited the report to remove the lines about “fervent home fans” and they have since edited the report again to remove mention of Rose’s red card. Perhaps they removed the mention of the red card because the referee rescinded the red card or perhaps because the minutes after the match are being conveniently erased from history.
This entire episode marks disturbing trends in humanity’s ever-growing online presence. In the days of print newspapers, editing a published piece was difficult. Once the original article had been published, the paper had to write an entire retraction or at the very least a small blurb somewhere admitting that they got the facts wrong. These days, articles are written and re-edited all of the time. In fact, I would go as far as to say that any article published online should be considered “under review” until the first 1000 hits when the population has a chance to edit and fact-check it for the author. Any author with integrity will put the changes in-line with
strikeouts and bolds in order to highlight the facts they got wrong.
But as we already know, UEFA have no integrity. Racial abuse like that suffered by Danny Rose and others in Serbia last night is unfortunately all too common at these international matches. And before you tell me that it has gotten better, perhaps it has, but if it even happens once in the year of our lord 2012 it’s happened once too many times. But the fact is that racial abuse happens enough that UEFA have a campaign against racism in football. You don’t have a campaign against something that happens once in a blue moon. UEFA knows they have a problem.
The day before the Serbian racial assault took place, UEFA unironically announced a partnership with FARE and that “next week’s (Champions League) fixtures will not be just about football. It will also be a forum where Europe’s biggest teams and their supporters will make their stand against any form of discrimination in football.”
UEFA’s President, Michel Platini was clear about his organization’s goals regarding racism and other forms of discrimination, stating ”UEFA is committed to tackling discrimination in football, and we encourage football fans to join us in our efforts to value respect for players, officials, opponents and fellow supporters of all nationalities, religious backgrounds, sexual orientation and ethnic origins.”
But “encouraging” football fans to stop being racist and “value respect” is simply not enough. Sadly, football has come along slowly in regards to racism. Chelsea FC only had their first black player in 1981. Spanish players, to this day, speak openly about the fact that racism is a part of terrace life in Spain. And clearly, racism is alive and well on the terraces in Serbia.
UEFA know they have a problem or they wouldn’t have their “RESPECT” campaign. They know they have a problem or they wouldn’t employ Newsspeak and Ninja Edits to whitewash history in their official reports. Unfortunately the problem for UEFA doesn’t seem to be the actual racism but rather the public relations around the fact they refuse to do anything about racism.