This has been a bad week for the game in some ways and a good week in others. There have been two cases of bad crowd behaviour that have made the news.
Firstly there was the unimaginably sick and disgusting racial abuse of Inter Milan striker Mario Balotelli by Juventus fans.
Secondly, there was the throwing of coins onto the pitch at the recent Cardiff against Swansea game, one of which hit the referee on the head and caused injury.
These two incidents are bad news for the game I love because they are the type of incidents that should have been eradicated from the game by now. In relation to the Juventus fans, just how pathetic are the people who were involved in this incident? This sort of behaviour is abhorrent and should be a thing of the past in society in general, let alone football stadiums.
The coin throwing is ridiculous, cowardly, dangerous and a throw back to the 1970s and early 1980s when a minority of ignorant football fans almost brought an end to the beautiful game.
The good news to come out of the incident is the fact that the authorities seem to be trying to send out a message that they will not tolerate such behaviour. It is long overdue that the authorities should back up their fine words with some actual meaningful penalties.
Juventus have been ordered to play a home game behind closed doors. The Italian League is likely to bar fans from Juve’s home game against Lecce on 3 May.
In the past Italian clubs have been punished by hardly punitive fines following incidents of racist abuse and this action is much better.
Juventus club president Giovanni Cobolli Gigli has apologised to Balotelli and said Serie A had to end the culture of racism among fans. Fine words again. I suggest, Mr President, that you identify the fans involved and ban them for life from your football ground.
In the other case, a twenty-four year old Cardiff fan has been convicted of throwing items onto the pitch in the game in question. He has been banned from all football grounds for three years. They were unable to prove that he threw the actual coin that hit the referee. The police investigation is ongoing and further charges may follow.
I am glad he has banned for three years but it would have been nice if he hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been awarded the minimum penalty possible for someone convicted of his offence.
It is undoubtedly good that the Italian authorities have closed JuventusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ ground for a game, but I would like to see more. It is nice that the authorities identified an offender with the help of other fans in Cardiff and that he has been banned. I would like to see more.
Racism in particular and crowd violence as well, are a cancer that affect the very core of the game of football. For the game to flourish and for as many people as possible to get joy from playing and watching the game, they must both be removed from the game. The only way to do this is to identify and then come down hard on the offenders.
Juventus are being punished, as are their fans, because of a few ignorant people who have no place in a football ground. How quickly would the club identify and remove them if the Italian League said that a further incident of this nature would lead to a deduction of points and a third to relegation?
We have reached the time when that sort of example needs to be set so that things do not return to the bad old days.
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