Show Racism the Red Card chief Ged Grebby insists the £16,700 fine for the Portuguese side is not enough to deter fans who racially abused Manchester City star
By Rob Stewart
Show Racism the Red Card officials expressed dismay over the punishment meted out to the Portuguese club for the behaviour of fans in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie at the Estadio Dragao on February 16.
Balotelli was subjected to monkey chants throughout City’s 2-1 win and the abuse rose when he was substituted by Roberto Mancini in the closing stages of the game. Afterwards, the Premier League side lodged an immediate complaint.
Porto were dealt the fine just days after Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was hit in the pocket to the tune of £37,000 and given a three-match touchline ban after confronting a referee in the wake of his club’s Champions League tie with AC Milan last month.
Ged Grebby, chief executive of Show Racism the Red Card, was left disappointed by the sanctions from European football’s governing body for Porto.
“The fine seems incongruous with what Uefa are doing to fight racism,” Grebby told Goal.com.
“It would appear to me that Uefa have been really high-profile on this issue in terms of having their own campaign – Unite against Racism – and I know they are one of the main funders of football against racism in Europe.
“So for them on the one hand to support anti-racism initiatives and then handing out tiny fines to club that seem like just a slap on the wrist seems wrong.”
Tyneside-based Grebby believes that a harsher penalty for Porto would have served as a greater deterrent to wrong-doers.
“European competitions make these clubs millions of pounds and a fine like this will not really make anyone change,” he added.
“I am not in favour of closing stadiums and all that kind of thing because I don’t think all fans should suffer because of the actions of, what is normally, a minority of fans. But the clubs themselves have got to take action.
“And the clubs are much more likely to take action if they know that the sanctions are harder. Certainly that kind of punishment, given the one that Arsene Wenger has received, is basically not enough.
“We also know that in other European countries – Italy and Spain in particular but also Portugal as well – that this is a problem that keeps coming back because there is not enough action by the authorities.
“The one thing you could say about our Football Association is that they have been much more consistent in what they have been doing. Now Uefa have to make sure that the clubs and the respective national governing bodies do act much more strongly in the future.”
Meanwhile, Piara Power, the executive director of the FARE network, European football’s anti-discrimination and social inclusion body, defended Uefa's punishment and insisted harsher sanctions would be taken upon repeated offending.
“We welcome the Uefa sanction applied to Porto FC. It is the right action given the clear evidence of racial abuse during this game,” Power said in a statement issued to Goal.com.
“The fine represents a first offence sanction according to Uefa's ‘three strikes and out principle. Further offences will result in an increased fine and then a ban.
“We commend Manchester City for their action in reporting the abuse to Uefa and urge all clubs whose players face similar abuse in European football to report it to match observers. Clubs must protect the interests of their players in these situations.”
Porto have three days to appeal against the verdict.