By CSKA Fans Against Racism –
Dear Dr Thomas Partl (Austria), Jacques Antenen (Switzerland), Sándor Berzi (Hungary), Chris Bonett (Malta), Tomás Gea (Andorra), Kepa Larumbe (Spain), Hans Lorenz (Germany), Rudolf Řepka (Czech Republic), Jim Stjerne Hansen (Denmark), and Joël Wolff (Luxembourg)
After your scandalous decision on the Dynamo Kyiv racist incident during the match versus Chelsea, there are a couple of things we at CSKA Fans against Racism want to tell you.
Just look at the photo of the black fan who was beaten solely because of his skin color. Do you honestly believe that the attack on the black fans was provoked simply because they appeared in the section of the stadium which neighbored that of the Dynamo fans? This is what Dynamo’s vice-president Alexey Semenenko told journalists after the match. The black fan, who was stabbed will never come to a football match in Kyiv again—nor will many who have seen the evidence and its aftermath—but those right wing ultras whom you banned for two games will reappear there very soon. They will be laughing at you, tweeting and posting photos from Olimpiyskiy with hashtags #UEFAMafia and #F*ckUEFA. The beaten black fans and anyone with a conscience will see Olimpiyskiy and your hands as contaminated.
To put all of this into context, let’s take a short trip into history. We remind you of two recent cases. In the first case, you were the ones who punished CSKA Moscow for racism and crowd disturbances in Rome by closing its stadium for three home matches. Furthermore, you also banned CSKA supporters from travelling to two away games.
The second case is a match in which the Croatian national team played against Italy. For a swastika sign at the pitch you deducted one point from Croats and made them play two home games behind closed doors. Now, let’s look the Dynamo Kyiv incident. This was Dynamo’s fourth punishment for racism in two years, but you just limited it with two games (one match is suspended for a probationary period of three years).
For the first time in European football history, we faced a major occurrence of physical violence during a racist incident. For the first time we saw people targeted and beaten by right wing ultras solely because of their skin color. For the first time, lives were threatened and blood was shed at a European stadium due to a racist attack. After the attacks, the Executive Director of FARE Piara Powar told the Guardian that they would be lobbying for the strongest sanctions. And you limited your response to two matches behind closed doors. Do you sincerely think that the attacks in Kyiv compares to the two earlier incidents described above?
The decision you made is a betrayal of UEFA’s “zero tolerance to racism” policy. It is a kick in the teeth for all anti-racist activists; your very limited punishment discredits your stated claim to combat racism in football and tramples all the grassroots movements which are honestly fighting racism in their respective clubs. Your inconsistent and ineffective policy of collective punishment will never solve the problem. You allow racists to hold ordinary football supporters hostage, because the racists believe they hold the real power in the stadiums. They blackmail the club management and act as zealots, because they know that their racist banners and chants will immediately cause a stadium closure. Now, they know that even a physical attack on black fans will be pardoned by UEFA.
After the recent incident in Kyiv, it is time to acknowledge that we have reached a point of no return. The racist assault is well documented. It is time to accept that you, gentlemen, do not support the on-going human rights movement in Eastern Europe; you don’t understand how to act and just sweep the dirt under the carpet by repeatedly implementing ineffective collective punishment measures. Through your decisions, you pretend to fight racism, and you actually worsen the situation. Do you think that the situation will have improved after your two matches behind closed doors in Kyiv?
After numerous racist incidents in Russia, FIFA ordered that a position of anti-racism officer for the area be opened; we believe that, because the situation in our part of Europe is getting worse, it is time for UEFA to appoint a special anti-racism officer for the Eastern European countries as well, and also that it is time for a change in strategy.
During the Football Supporters Europe Congress in Belfast in June 2015, a representative of our initiative had a chance to participate in the panel with your colleague, vice-president of the UEFA Appeals Body, Mr. Michael Maessen. Please, spend ten minutes, go to his office and ask him about that day in Northern Ireland. He promised to share the concerns of fans from all over Europe regarding UEFA’s mass punishment measures.
Gentlemen, we are continuing in our fight against racism. Despite the ongoing threats we receive. Despite all the questionable decisions you have made. Because we believe we are on the right side of history. And we will win—with or without your help.