European football: Discrimination, discipline and Kosovo's debut

Published 20 March 2014 | Authored by: Adam Lovatt, Thomas Gibby


Discrimination in football – campaign launched by The FA as the battle goes on

The Football Association have produced four anti-discrimination videos as part of its latest drive to counter discrimination in the English game. The videos are focused on racism, homophobia, anti-semitism and other forms of discrimination.

Dion Dublin and Graeme Le Saux, both former England international players, feature in the films, which are aimed at both supporters and players as the battle to fight racism English football continues.

English referees have been warned to expect an increase in the reporting of incidents relating to discrimination in light of the campaign, which is particularly noteworthy in light of the recent ban issued to Nicolas Anelka.

In Scotland at the weekend, a supporter was arrested after allegedly making racist comments towards a Partick Thistle player in their home Scottish Premiership match against Hibs on Saturday afternoon. It can only be hoped that campaigns such as the new Football Association one will help to eradicate the ongoing problems being experienced in the British game.

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UEFA discipline – two disciplinary hearings listed for 20 March

Two of Europe’s biggest clubs, Bayern Munich F.C. and Atletico Madrid C.F., are to face UEFA’s control and disciplinary body in separate hearings this Thursday (tomorrow).

Bayern Munich

UEFA opened disciplinary proceedings against Bayern Munich as a result of two ‘‘indecent, inappropriate or offensive’’ banners on display in the Allianz Arena during last week’s Champions League match against Arsenal. The first banner related to the on-going publicity campaign to have Kosovo, an independent state since 2008, officially recognised by both FIFA and UEFA. The second banner attracted UEFA’s attention because it contained ‘‘offensive words/ images’’ and should warrant a more straightforward disciplinary procedure.

This case is similar to the disciplinary proceedings opened last year against Scottish champions Celtic (and previously in 2011) and Dutch champions Ajax which resulted in both clubs being sanctioned with five-figure fines.

Atletico Madrid

UEFA have also opened a disciplinary case against the Spanish title contenders for alleged ‘‘improper conduct’’ over claims of ‘‘racist behaviour’’ by its supporters. The incident allegedly occurred during Atletico’s Under-19s defeat to Manchester City on 26 February. City’s match report described the home crowd as both ‘‘vocal’’ and ‘‘intimidating’’ and the player is said to have been abused both by an opponent and a section of the club’s fans during the game, and reportedly spat at as he left the field after the full time whistle.

Both clubs have declined to comment further on the incident at this stage and await the upcoming decision.

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World first – international friendly for Kosovo

Earlier this month, recently independent state Kosovo made its debut on the international stage in a FIFA-approved friendly against Haiti. The match received the green light (subject to restrictions) following judgment by FIFA’s emergency committee on 13 January after intense campaigning by Kosovo’s Football Federation and lengthy negotiations with Serbian football officials.

Under Article 83 of the FIFA statutes, FIFA members (in this case, Haiti) can be authorised by a FIFA Executive Committee to play against non-FIFA members (Kosovo). Currently, the country is allowed to play friendlies against other non-former Yugoslav nations, with the restriction that there are no national symbols displayed or anthems played.

The country, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, is recognised by over 100 countries (US and 23/28 EU member states included), with the notable exceptions of both Russia and Serbia. As a consequence, the country is unable to join FIFA and other international sporting organisations.

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About the Author

Adam Lovatt

Adam Lovatt

Adam is a lawyer specialising in sports law with IMG. Adam has a wide range of commercial and litigation experience from his four years as a qualified solicitor. Adam has a passion for sports law and is currently undertaking a IP Law Masters programme with the University of London. He is passionate about most sports particularly football, golf and tennis.

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Thomas Gibby

Thomas Gibby

Thomas is a Solicitor in Kerman & Co’s sports team. Thomas is predominantly a commercial contracts lawyer who advises the team’s biggest sporting clients and major event organisers on a range of their commercial issues, including working in-house at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. His experience includes advising on data and consumer protection, IT/software development and procurement contracts.

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