By: Milos Kosic
UEFA’s decision to award a 3-0 win to Italy over Serbia for fan riots during the Euro 2012 qualifying game is just one of many injustices that this organization has made in order to help big soccer nations that haven’t been doing all that well recently. Italy had a horrific World Cup (they finished last in the group, below New Zealand) and after their unconvincing start in the Euro Qualifications, the eventual loss against Serbia could have put them in a very undesirable position. Lucky for them, they won three to nothing, without scoring a single goal.
The game between two sides was called off after only six minutes because the stadium security was unable to suppress the destructive behavior of Serbian fans. UEFA’s decision would be absolutely justified if the match was played in Serbia. But it wasn’t. It was played in Italy and to be fair, Italy is not known as the most peaceful nation when it comes to soccer hooligans (remember the famous incident when a few ‘fans’ entered the field during one of Roma’s games and said to Totti that the match needs to be called off? Or more recently when three Liverpool supporters were stabbed?) So it came as quite a surprise that Italian police was unable to handle twenty to thirty Serbian fans. After the game, the police proudly stated that they succeeded in preventing a new Heysel (an incident that occurred in 1985, during the game between Liverpool and Juventus when 39 people died), but that statement is ridiculous. Anyone who watched the game knows that Serbian hooligans didn’t attack Italian fans or caused any kind of stampede that would leave masses of people injured. Yes, they did throw flares on the field and tried to break the security gate, but Italian police simply did not wish to do anything to prevent the incident.
So UEFA’s decision raises a question: what is the responsibility of the hosts? Does it mean that in the rematch in Belgrade, Serbia has a right to let Italian hooligans do whatever they want, so that the game can be canceled? Will the three points then be given to Serbia? It would be different if hundreds of Serbs caused riots, but as every YouTube video would show you, most of the people simply stood, not taking any kind of violent actions. In every country, even in Faroe Islands, you can find a few hooligans, and as long as they are not a majority in the stadium, it is a duty of the security to deal with them.
Last time Republic of Ireland unfairly missed the World Cup so that one big nation can go to South Africa. You would guess UEFA would not have enough courage to repeat the same atrocity, but I guess you’re wrong. Same old, same old…