By Saul Pope
The British media were quick to highlight the punishment handed out to CSKA Moscow by UEFA for racist behaviour at a Champions League match against AS Roma. I won’t dwell on the details as they can be found elsewhere, but it is really important they received wide coverage.
Interesting, then, that the punishment given to Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk by UEFA on the same day received no attention from mainstream UK media:
Incidents: Racist behaviour – Art. 14 UEFA Disciplinary Regulations; Illicit banner – Art. 16 (2) DR; Setting off of fireworks – Art. 16 (2) DR; Use of laser pointer – Art. 16 (2) DR Sanction: The UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body has ordered the partial closure of FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk Stadium during the next (1) UEFA competition match in which FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk would play as the host club, and, in particular, the sector B 41 of the stadium. The Ukrainian team has also been ordered to implement the following directive in the next UEFA match which the club will play as the host team: to display a banner with the wording “No to Racism”, with the UEFA logo on it. In addition, FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk has been fined €24,000.
Though it’s difficult to find English language information about the incidents, this Ukrainian site covers it well – the pictures on the site feature Dnipro fans wearing neo-Nazi t-shirts and a Ukrainian flag with the logo of the far-right Azov Battalion on it. You all know what a Nazi salute looks like, but if you want to see a small(ish) number of Dnepr fans doing one then click on the video too.
And, just like CSKA, this is not the first time Dnipro fans have committed racist acts – the disturbing picture from this site comes from a Europa League game against Aberdeen in 2007.
So why the lack of coverage? Maybe all the attention on CSKA is because they are due to play Manchester City in the Champions League.
Then again, the Guardian, the BBC and others felt it was important to cover the racial abuse Chris Samba recently suffered playing in a domestic Russian game.
Maybe that’s because he’s someone our media feel their readers can relate to. But that would mean racism is only worth reporting when it affects someone we know - which I’m sure nobody agrees with.
Maybe, heaven forfend, it’s been ignored because – as one commentator suggested to me – ‘Ukraine is now Britain’s friend’ and ‘damning Russia more fits the agenda.’ Hmm…there was certainly interest in the racism issue and Ukraine pre Euro 2012.
Surely it’s not because of that…is it?
PS – even if the issue had been covered, it’s unlikely the UK media would have given much attention to all the non-racist fans in Ukraine. Though Russian fans have recently been involved in racist incidents, stories on them tend not to get as far as speaking to those who are against these - and they also ignore the work of groups such as CSKA Against Racism.
On the same theme: