Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure complained of racist chanting being aimed at him in last week's UEFA Champions League match in Russia against CSKA Moscow, which led to calls for harsh punishments to levelled at the hosts.
Following an investigation and a hearing from UEFA over the matter, they have decreed that CSKA's stadium will face partial closure for their next European game.
A single-tiered end section of Arena Khimki will be closed when CSKA host holders Bayern Munich on 27 November. CSKA had denied Toure's claims he had been racially abused. But European football's governing body charged the club following a hearing in Switzerland by its control and disciplinary body.
The result is vindication of Toure's initial claims and UEFA will hope that it forces the club to act against its own supporters in future.
But there has been widespread disgust and anger that, once again, Europe's governing body has not gone far enough in the punishments meted out.
Sixth Such Handout
CSKA Moscow aren't groundbreakers in this instance, even though some are claiming they feel hard done by.
@StanCollymore mate, even with such a light ban many in Russia firmly believe this is a conspiracy against the country. Ridicolous— Alexey Yaroshevsky (@YaroLFC) October 30, 2013
In fact, UEFA have handed partial stadium closures to five other teams this season, including Lazio from Italy's Serie A, who initially had a full stadium closure downgraded after appeal. Dinamo Zagreb, Honved and Legia Warsaw are the three clubs who have had a full stadium closure upheld.
CSKA Moscow's stadium holds just over 18,500 supporters in total.
Russia World Cup 2018
When Toure made his initial complaints, punishment for CSKA Moscow specifically wasn't the only thing he had in mind.
Instead he turned his attentions to an altogether more high-profile event: the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which is due to be held in Russia.
"If we aren't confident at the World Cup, coming to Russia, we don't come," were his words according to BBC Sport.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter had a minor dig at UEFA's handling of issues in racism, according to Charles Sale of the Daily Mail, but his views on pretty much anything to do with the subject are widely disregarded these days after suggestions that racial incidents between players could be settled by a handshake.
Neither FIFA nor UEFA have covered themselves in anything remotely approaching glory when it comes to eradicating racism from the game, and UEFA's latest punishment is regarded by many prominent voices as nothing more than another farcical decision in a long line of them.
Cant help but feel Russia winning World Cup 18 will have future bearing on how their clubs are treated re racism.— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) October 30, 2013
UEFA have ordered CSKA to close section D of the ground v Bayern. That'll do the trick.— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) October 30, 2013
So CSKA get a bit of the stadium closed by Uefa. Racists may even have to move seats— Ian Prior (@ianprior) October 30, 2013
UEFA say they show "zero tolerance" to racism. CSKA Moscow hit with partial stadium closure. Good job they're not lenient then.— Ian Ridley (@IanRidley1) October 30, 2013
Rule Changes From May
It's not all about the negatives, though. There are those who feel UEFA's improved and upgraded sanctions are a step in the right direction.
UEFA CSKA sanction is a clear signal. Racism + discriminatory abuse will be punished. Education is answer long term.— Piara Powar (@PiaraPowar) October 30, 2013
BusinessOfSoccer.com highlights the alterations made in May to set out clearly how punishments for these types of offences would increase with repeat occurrences.
In line with the UEFA directive, partial stadium closure is the first step toward deterrence and righting the wrongs which have been done.
As such, should CSKA Moscow (or the five other teams with the same partial stadium closure) breach the rules again, one match would be played behind completely closed doors as well as the fine of €50,000 being handed out.
Most, however, would agree that monetary fines on that scale matter little to the majority of clubs competing in the Champions League, where a single victory in the group stage can yield prize money eight times that amount.
Still Not Enough?
So UEFA are following their own regulations, and CSKA will play without a section of their stadium—and its support and revenue—for one game.
Have UEFA gone far enough this time?
.@StanCollymore Second racism offence, and stadium wholly closed. Third, could be out of competition. Campaigners have been calling for this— David Conn (@david_conn) October 30, 2013
Petrosyan (@arturpetrosyan) October 30, 2013
Looking back—and forward to the World Cup—it's not as if history is on Russia's side for this kind of thing.
FIFA are still seeking assurances from Russia that they are doing everything they can to combat the issue of racism ahead of the World Cup, but several clubs have been fined or accused of incidents even in the past two seasons.
In the 2011-12 campaign, Nigerian forward Emmanuel Emenike reacted to a fan who had racially abused him and was fined $17,000, while Dynamo Moscow, the club of the fan who taunted him, went unpunished for the original incident.
Former Blackburn Rovers defender Chris Samba called Zenit St Petersburg supporters "no good and racist" during his time playing for Anzhi Makhachkala, who also saw former defender Roberto Carlos offered a banana by Zenit fans.
Most memorable of all, a group of Zenit fans—from whom the club immediately distanced themselves—last season released a "charter" in which they demanded that no "dark-skinned" players don the club's shirt and stated that gay players were "unworthy" of the city.
While UEFA are sticking to their own charter of incremental punishments, most of the footballing world is by now sick with the lack of noteworthy, sustainable deterrents to clubs and the complete and utter lack of real action to remove racism from the game.
Most of the footballing world, in fact, no longer even expects UEFA to do anything about it at all—and that pretty much sums up the impact they are having on the issue better than anything else.
Wow partial closure of stadium for 1 match for racist abuse for cska Moscow! Those boys at UEFA are sooo tough!!!! #sarcasm— Matt Le Tissier (@mattletiss7) October 30, 2013
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