Fined Spain football coach denies racism
3 March 2005, MADRID-Spain coach Luis Aragones who was fined 3000 euros for racist remarks made about France and Arsenal player Thierry Henry said has been made a scapegoat.
3 March 2005
MADRID-Spain coach Luis Aragones who was fined 3000 euros for racist remarks made about France and Arsenal player Thierry Henry said has been made a scapegoat.
"I have been treated like Islero [the bull that killed the revered bullfighter Manolete]," said Aragones on hearing that he had been fined for his actions.
Under pressure from the Spanish government's Anti-Violence Commission, the Spanish FA (RFEF) finally decided to open a disciplinary case against Aragones.
The Spain coach could have been fined up to EUR 30,000 for what was considered a 'serious' offence, but they decided to fine him EUR 3,000.
The fine is half of what two Albacete fans and an Atletico Madrid fan were fined by the Anti-Violence Commission for racist abuse in Primera Liga matches this season.
Alfredo Flores, the president of the disciplinary commission, justified the decision, saying Aragones had been fined because of the consequences of his words, rather than for racism.
"Nobody on this committee believes that Aragones is racist, nor that he has shown a racist attitude," said Flores.
"We have sanctioned him because his behaviour has gone against public decorum. We believe he occupies an important position as national football coach and that he made an error by making a comment in a public training session."
However, though he still has the backing of the RFEF, Aragones believes he has been made a scapegoat and is not ruling out an appeal.
"I am not guilty, nor do I accept being judged for actions against the image of the sport. I have three or four medals for sporting merit."
"I spoke to the judge studying the case, though now I don't think it's fair and I have to look at the findings.
"I haven't liked one thing about this affair and I do not agree with the sanction. They have looked for a scapegoat," said Aragones.
It had been expected that Aragones, 66, would be fined in the region of EUR 32,000 or even lose his job but he has been fined the equivalent of a day's wages.
The Spanish Football Federation at first declined to take action against Aragones, but was then requested to do so by Spain's anti-violence commission.
Aragones made the remarks to Arsenal and Spain's Jose Reyes last October.
He insisted the comments were meant to motivate the Spanish player, by comparing him favourably with club-mate Henry, and were not intended to be offensive.
"I never intended to offend anyone, and for that reason I have a very easy conscience," the Spain boss said at the time.
Aragones has apologised publicly to Henry, although not personally, for any offence caused by his comments, which were captured by a television crew.
The Spanish Football Federation - which has now given its coach 10 days to appeal - also apologised formally last year.
The size of the fine was attacked by anti-racism campaigners.
Leon Mann, head of the British anti-racist campaign Kick It Out said: "We expected very little from the Spanish Football Association and are not surprised by this pitiful fine."
In November, one month after Aragones made his comments, England played a friendly in Madrid and the visitors wore anti-racism tops in the warm-up.
But black England players Ashley Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips still received racist abuse from the crowd, for which the Spanish FA was fined EUR 65,000.
Meanwhile, Brazilian defender Roberto Carlos, who plays with Real Madrid, called for harsher measures against racist fans who repeatedly insult black players during games.
Carlos regretted last week's incident in La Coruña, where some fans hurled racist jeers at him, and called for an end to a practice that embarrasses and pains him.
Racism has become a significant issue in Spanish professional soccer, with international sport officials and players and coaches from other countries complaining about its persistence.
During games at several stadiums in recent months, some fans have taken to emitting in unison ape-like hoots when African or black players touch the ball.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news