Now it is time for football's three monkeys to wise up
22:46 GMT, 19 October 2012
They are monkeys, the lot of them. I’m not afraid to say it and neither should you be. Shout it from the grandstands. Throw bananas at them if you like. Monkeys! You know I’m right.
The chief ape is FIFA President Sepp Blatter, the monkey that sees no evil (what did you think I meant) Then there’s UEFA boss Michel Platini, the monkey that hears no evil. And let’s not forget the missing link in charge of the Serbian Football Association that speaks no evil, certainly not when it comes to the mess made inside his own zoo.
The verbal and physical abuse the England Under 21 team had to put up with in Serbia this week was pathetic and repellent. It was an embarrassment to football. But what followed was probably worse.
The three monkeys: Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini and the Serbian FA
England Under 21 footballer Danny Rose was sent off for kicking a ball away in frustration at the racist abuse he received, which is almost impossible to believe. Nothing broadcasts a message of racial progress like punishing a black player for showing his contempt for racism. What was Rose thinking, taking offence at hundreds of people making monkey noises at him
The defeated Serbs used the moment as an excuse to fight on the pitch and by the tunnel. But the official UEFA website must be run by chimps too because they saw, heard and said absolutely nothing about this. Their report merely recorded that ‘the players took to the field at the end of the game’.
Do something: Blatter and Co must step up their game
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And why did they take to the field Was it to pick daisies, perhaps Or was it to butt and punch one another in a race row It doesn’t say. Nor does the referee’s preliminary report into the events. So well done, the Turkish official. Well done, UEFA. Idiots all.
Then the real blows began to land. Rose was branded a ‘liar’ according to a video on the Serbian FA’s official website. He was described as ‘unsportsmanlike and vulgar’.
Their FA president, Tomislav Karadzic, displaying the diplomatic subtlety of King Kong swiping at passing aircraft, vehemently denied racism was involved despite the monkey impressions ringing out around the stadium.
Racism in Serbia It’s all a pigment of people’s imagination, it seems. ‘The Serbian people have never been, nor will be racist,’ insisted Karadzic.
What, never His namesake Radovan Karadzic is on trial for war crimes in The Hague. The former Bosnian Serb leader is charged with orchestrating the genocide of thousands upon thousands of Muslims in an attempt to establish a state exclusively for Christian Serbs.
During a recent appearance, Radovan Karadzic assured the court he had recently allowed a Muslim barber to cut his hair, so he could not possibly be guilty.
With that line of logic, he should stand for a position on UEFA’s executive committee. It’s all a grotesque and giant leap from monkey noises, obviously, but it indicates underlying issues the Serbian FA simply refuse to acknowledge. For most, xenophobia is a decent score in Scrabble. Sadly, in parts of the former Yugoslavia, it remains a fact of life.
Disgraceful: Danny Rose was sent off after being abused
But let’s keep it light, eh And UEFA will keep it light. There’ll be some paltry fine imposed on the Serbs and a limp admonishment contained in an official statement.
Nobody attending a match in the country will notice anything different and a contingent of the Serbian crowd will continue to believe that abusing black individuals is just part of the game, or a minor indiscretion at worst. Society is not telling them otherwise.
UEFA excel at being weak. Just look at what happened to Lazio on Thursday The Italian club, with a distinctly chequered record in this area, were fined just 32,500 after their fans racially abused Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon at White Hart Lane last month.
But when Nicklas Bendtner wore a pair of green underpants sponsored by a Irish bookmaker he was fined 80,000. So rest assured UEFA do get tough on matters of colour prejudice. They think green is really bad.
Clash: Serbia and England U21 players come together
It is all depressingly pathetic, but the rulers of football have spent so many years ignoring the racist abuse hurled about in various European venues that any sudden increase in punishments now is sure to seem tokenistic.
The idea UEFA or FIFA can take a moral lead is laughable. Blatter and Platini would be like a celebrity couple who adopt a Third World baby, call it Sahara ‘to show unity with Africa’s plight’ and then head back to Hollywood on their private jet.
It’s gesture politics. It’s bogus. And, throughout all of the posturing, England’s black players will be expected to continue to put up and shut up, smiling for the cameras as they stand behind a banner bearing a catchy slogan promoting football’s efforts to ‘eradicate racism’.
Plenty has been done. Britain has changed. Football has changed. But the game picks and chooses its targets. The likes of Reading’s Jason Roberts are now telling the game’s authorities where to stick their publicity stunts and T-shirts in protest at the soft four-game ban John Terry received from our FA.
If Roberts doesn’t believe in the merits of a campaign, I don’t see why he has to support it. But Sir Alex Ferguson, a former shop steward, disagrees. The Manchester United manager wondered aloud whether the player might be on a mission to promote himself.
Not a fan: Jason Roberts (right) will not wear a Kick it Out shirt
‘All the players are wearing the T-shirts,’ said Ferguson. ‘I have only heard Roberts is different. I don’t know if he is trying to put himself on a different pedestal from everyone.
‘When you do something, and everyone believes in it, you should all do it together. There shouldn’t be sheep wandering off.’
Not even if they are the black sheep Surely the trouble is there have been too many sheep over the years Rather than go along with the flock, I’d rather see people wander off the path if they believe it is a shortcut towards change.
And not ‘everyone’ believes in what’s been happening in the game here of late. Roberts has held ferociously passionate objections to the entire Terry case from the moment the video footage surfaced. Wales goalkeeper Jason Brown is also refusing to wear a T-shirt. And Rio and Anton Ferdinand have discussed making similar protests this weekend, a view that may pit them against their own clubs.
Disagree: Sir Alex Ferguson says everyone should wear a shirt
A Serbian would find it all very confusing. While they are being condemned for racism, the back pages in England decry Chelsea as ‘hypocrites’ for standing by Terry but banning fans for racial abuse. Another headline says black players are being ‘kicked in the teeth’.
Huge advances have been made but the point is we still send a muddled message out to the world. The difference in this country is we can see that, we hear the protests and we’re not blind to the contradictions. We don’t have to put up with monkey business any more.
England are on… pass the Pro Plus
I never use sleeping tablets. Whenever I’m struggling to doze off I rely on the most powerful sedative known to mankind. I watch an England match.
So I’m not sure why the country’s top players should need to take tranquilizers
Under Roy Hodgson, the international team has managed one shot on target in four of his 11 matches.
Even in an age of scientific advancement, it would be difficult to find a more effective cure for insomnia.
Wake up: Roy Hodgson's England have had one shot on target in four of 11 matches
It actually seems perverse that multi-million pound footballers, aiming to reach the finals of the most prestigious competition in world sport, should prepare for important matches like panicking students trying to complete their dissertation 48 hours before it is due.
This week we found that England’s players dose up on Pro Plus caffeine tablets before games — and then knock themselves out with sleeping tablets afterwards.
This became an issue because it emerged they took tranquilizers the night after their postponed World Cup qualifier in Poland — which explained why they looked as if they were still in their pyjamas when the rescheduled match kicked off the following afternoon.
Whatever justification anybody offers for the pills, it still seems extraordinarily basic. Not so much the product of years of medical research as some tip passed on by an ageing student whose qualifications are an ability to sniff Tippex, sit cross-legged on the floor and recall a dream he once had where two unicorns were kissing.
It’s entirely typical, too. At a time when there is huge speculation that some of the great teams of the European game may have used blood-boosting drugs to increase performance, England’s finest are ‘doping’ on herbal remedies and Red Bull.
Tranquilized: England players took sleeping tablets on Wednesday night
If they must experiment with drugs, they could at least use proper ones like real champions such as Diego Maradona and Lance Armstrong.
I’m joking, of course. People should not rely on artificial stimulants. Now pass me my coffee. I’m not writing another word until I’ve had a pot of espresso.
Trenton's bird joke
If I were ever going to choose an Indentikit class warrior, he wouldn’t be called Trenton. The name just doesn’t fit in with my definition of a prole.
To be fair, ‘Desmond’ is hardly a moniker you would identify with acts of civil unrest either, but then I’m not the twit that jumped into the Thames to disrupt the Boat Race between Oxbridge and Camford.
Self-styled rebel Trenton Oldfield did because he sees the university contest as ‘elitist’ (someone should explain to him universities tend to be elitist). And, for his trouble, he received a six-month jail term on Friday.
Punished: Trenton Oldfield was found guilty
Personally, I’d have sentenced him to swimming in front of the boats every year for the entertainment value and in the hope that one of the oars might not only knock some sense into him, but also wipe that smirk off his face.
There is no denying the prison sentence is a joke, however. The length of the punishment Oldfield received actually proves his point.
If he had disrupted a football match, he’d have been flung out the gate and told to make his way home. But because it was posh boys waving their paddles he got six months.
Trenton would have been better off waiting for the rowers to leave their boats and trying to connect with a punch. That way he’d have been given a caution and community service, not six months.