The modern football fan has grown accustomed to dealing with hypocrisy and idiocracy from the governing bodies that oversee the game. FIFA, UEFA, CONCACAF, etc. regularly make poor decisions and hand out head scratching fines and decisions all the time. The real frustration for me when it comes to dealing with the chronic nonsense from the alphabet soup on governing bodies is the feeling that they never seem to learn.
You see human beings are supposed to learn and grow as they live life and have experiences. We all make mistakes and bad choices, but we're supposed to take away a lesson from those moments and apply them to our thought processes moving forward. Governing bodies in sports, and soccer especially, don't seem to be able to grasp this elementary idea.
Case in point, the €100,000 fine and match suspension for Nicklas Bendtner following his rather immature decision to expose his underpants after a goal against Portugal at Euro 2012. Bendtner needed to be punished because the last thing we need is players exposing advertisements on undergarments as a way to pad their bank accounts.
Personally, I could care less if a player wants to take his shirt off after scoring or run aroud with his pants around his ankles, but there can't be ads or other offensive messages on display. Soccer is a business and sponsors don't take kindly with having other companies that didn't pay the big endorsement bucks get free advertising. We get that.
However, and it's a BIG however, UEFA's choice of punishment for Bendtner is completely absurd when compared to the fines they've been accessing for acts of violence and racism. Let's take a look at some past fines handed down by UEFA and how they compare to what Bendtner received.
Spanish FA fined €56,000 in 2004 for racism from fans towards English players.
Croatia FA fined €13,000 in 2008 for racism from fans in a match against Turkey.
Are you seeing the trend yet? Don't worry, there's more.
UEFA fined the German FA €10,000 after fans threw paper balls at Portugal players during their Euro 2012 match. That's the same amount they find Legia Warsaw after their fans unveiled a "Jihad" banner during a match against Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Want one more? Ok!
On Tuesday, UEFA fined the Croatian FA €80,000 after their fans set off fireworks and made racist chants towards Mario Balotelli in Croatia's match against Italy at Euro 2012.
The only fine larger than Bendtner's was the one received by the Russian FA for "in stadium violence" by fans during the Poland match, including a nasty attack on stadium stewards. For the record the fine was €120,000 and is back loaded with a large point deduction for Russia in future Euro qualifying if their fans act up again.
What's the common thread? Nearly every single one of those fines was less severe than the fine levied against Nicklas Bendtner for exposing his underpants and showing an unauthorized advertisement.
Why is that bad? Because it sends a message that UEFA is more concerned with protecting their sponsors, and by proxy their money, than they are about stomping racism out of the game of soccer. That's an ugly precedent, it's downright shameful, but UEFA doesn't care and that's no surprise. Soccer is a big money industry and groups like UEFA and FIFA can't be bothered with trying to actually make the sport better and more inclusive for fans of all races, colors and creeds. Nope, these hypocrites will give anti-racism campaigns all the lip service in press conferences and media friendly photo-ops, but when it comes down to actually doing something about racism in soccer, they pass out wimpy fines and look the other way.
I'd say that UEFA should be ashamed of themselves, but they are not. They're too busy getting rich to be worried with something insignificant like using their power and influence to make the world's game something everyone can be proud of.