Racism Stinks…and it’s time for UEFA to get serious about throwing it out
The past few days have seen another couple of rounds of EURO qualification matches, so different nations have been competing against each other. Now, the match in question was England at Bulgaria, which the English won handily by a score of 6-0. But that’s not the story, nor is it what everyone’s talking about. The big discussion is the disgusting racism that was present throughout the game by the Bulgarian fans at the stadium. It’s time for UEFA (European soccer’s governing body) to step in and take concrete steps to prevent this.
In the past, UEFA has had campaigns like “Say No To Racism” and “Equal Game,” which have sought to foster relationships and bring an end to racism in The Beautiful Game. However, after seeing Nazi salutes yesterday during the match, it’s more than obvious that simple campaigns are not enough. It was good that the referee in charge stopped the match as part of UEFA’s newest three-part system to halt racist chants at matches. However, it’s still not enough.
As of this morning the Bulgarian Football Union’s (BFU) president, Borislav Mihaylov resigned following the despicable showing, at the behest, among other obviously pressing matters, of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. Obviously, this isn’t a reason to generalize and think that all Bulgarian are racists. Far from it. But every fan in that stadium who performed a Nazi salute, in my opinion, should be identified and punished in some way. Obviously, a simple American sportswriter’s opinion won’t have any sway over the domestic policy of Bulgaria, but I think that it behooves the Eastern European nation to do something, especially since stamping out racism in soccer has been such a big talking point since the turn of the century.
So, what should UEFA do in this situation? I think the first would be to actually suspend the BFU from official UEFA competition for a period of time. Maybe that’s the next logical step to getting fans to not be racist. I know that the most severe punishment currently is to ban fans from the stadium, but I think it’s time to look at banning national teams from playing if their fans can’t behave themselves. After all, they both represent their country, and Bulgaria’s fans did an incredible disservice to their country.