LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: A heavily tattooed Lazio fan gestures during the UEFA Europa League group J match between Tottenham Hotspur and Lazio at White Hart Lane on September 20, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
If you watched Tottenham Hotspur match against Lazio last night, you probably heard the Lazio fans. Though small in number their shrill whistles could be heard eerily ringing out through White Hart Lane. It was utterly terrify. However, that wasn't the only disturbing thing the Lazio supporters were doing. Throughout the game the fans aimed rascist taunts at a number of Spurs players, including Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon, and Andros Townsend.
UEFA President Michael Platini was at last night's match at the Lane and it is believed that he and other UEFA officials are aware of the chants. Piara Powar, chief executive of the FARE Network which fights all forms of discrimination in football, believes Spurs must use their influence to try to ensure European football’s rulers take the matter seriously. Powar said:
The racist chants could be hear pretty clearly, even on television, so I can only imagine what it must have been like for those actually at the Stadium. I think everyone can agree that this sort of behavior has no place in football, or anything else for that matter, and that fact that Lazio fans travelled all the way from Italy to do that to our players is despicable. I sincerely hope Tottenham and UEFA do something about the Lazio fans' behavior. Unfortunately, I doubt Lazio will come away with anything more than a slap on the wrist.
"It is important that Tottenham raise their concerns with UEFA directly. It carries a certain weight if matters are passed on to them by club officials, a weight that fans cannot match...[T]his seems to be a fairly clear situation where fans have come to White Hart Lane and insulted some of the Tottenham players. Lazio have a reputation as a club who are followed by a number of far-right fans. We have had reports from people who said they heard racist chanting. We will collate all these and send them to UEFA today. Our hope is UEFA will take strong action. If something happens further down the line, they have the possibility to make a club play a match behind closed doors. There is the potential for flashpoints in the return game and UEFA need to be aware of this."
I don't think there is any good way to "Kick Racism Out of Football", because, let's be honest, there's no easy and fool-proof way to change someone's deeply held beliefs. An easy way to help minimize this sort of behavior is to actually penalize the club. Fining Lazio a few thousand pounds or making them play behind closed doors, as UEFA tends to do, is obviously not enough. I don't know what the appropriate punishment is. Taking away points in the Europa League or the League, or kicking them out of Europa entirely would certainly send a message of zero tolerance, but I doubt UEFA will be inclined to do that.
If you happened to be at the match last night and want to make a report the FARE Network has instructions here on how to report the chants.
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