Spanish soccer's hall of shame

12th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

Fines for racist abuse by fans growing, slowly.

12 February 2008

MADRID - "Tell the black man: 'I'm better than you! [...] Black shit, I'm better than you!'" This unfortunate turn of phrase used by Spain's national soccer coach, Luis Aragonés, to "motivate" José Antonio Reyes by comparing him favourably with his (black) Arsenal team mate Thierry Henry on 6 October 2004, led to a diplomatic incident between Madrid and London, and served as the backdrop to the notorious events of the subsequent friendly match between Spain and England at Madrid's Bernabéu stadium on 17 November of that year.

Several English players were the victims of racist abuse in the form of so-called monkey chanting from a large section of the crowd. Similar incidents took place on a smaller scale during the Spain vs England Under-21 international the previous day. FIFA fined the Spanish federation EUR 65,000. Almost five months after his racist comment, Aragonés was fined EUR 3,000 for a "serious breach" of discipline.

In March 2005 the government's CSD sports authority and the leading soccer organisations signed a "Protocol Against Racism," and for a time, both the press and soccer authorities focused on regular incidences of racist chanting at soccer stadiums across Spain. But the punishments against clubs remained small, such as the fine of  EUR 600 doled out to Málaga in September 2005 for insults aimed at Espanyol's Cameroonian goalkeeper Carlos Kameni.

The CSD intervened and demanded the FEF soccer federation raise its fines to a minimum of EUR 6,000 for racist incidents. Still, when Getafe fans abused Barcelona's Samuel Eto'o in November 2005, it was fined just EUR 3,000 as it agreed to cooperate fully in the fight against xenophobia.

Then after Eto'o was widely abused in Zaragoza's Romareda stadium in February 2006, the club was fined EUR 9,000 - EUR 3,000 less than the same player had to pay for singing an anti-Real Madrid song in front of Barça fans.

[Copyright EL PAÍS /Jaume Bauzá Leira 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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