By: John Fabiano, Ruling Sports Intern (Twitter: @Fabs5180)
Teams Incurring Big Fines Due to Fan Behavior During Euro 2012
Usually when a team is disciplined in soccer it comes in the form of a yellow or a red card, but the Euro 2012 has witnessed numerous teams receive hefty fines not due to the actions of the players or coach, but rather the fans that attend the games. Spain and Russia are the latest teams to have improper conduct disciplinary charges levied against them due to the actions of their supporters. Fans of both teams have been accused of racist behavior and racist chanting.
As the host of the Euro 2012, the Union of European Football Associations, UEFA, is the governing body of the tournament. Every member of UEFA is invited to compete in the tournament and every member of the organization must abide by the rules and regulations set forth by UEFA. Teams are responsible for the behavior of their fans, which are specifically included in the regulations as part of the team.
UEFA has a set of disciplinary regulations that are used for many of the competitions it oversees. These regulations give examples of improper fan conduct, which includes the invasion or attempted invasion of the field of play, the lighting of fireworks or any other objects, and the use of gestures, words, objects or any other means to transmit any message that is not fit for a sports event, in particular if it is of a political, offensive or provocative nature. Cases are heard by UEFA’s control and disciplinary body and the method of discipline most commonly used to deal with improper fan conduct is fines to the team.
Spainish fans allegedly started a racist chant directed at Italian striker Mario Balotelli during their match on June 10th. Balotelli was also abused by Croatian fans whose racist chants resulted in a team fine of over $100,000. Russian fans also allegedly engaged in racist chants, which were directed at Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie. Selassie was interviewed after the June 8th match and said he noticed the chants during the game.
This is not the first run-in that the Russian team has had with the UEFA disciplinary body as the team has already been fined three times for improper fan conduct. These fines, which have been for the lighting of fireworks, display of illicit banners, and for a fan entering the field of play, have cost the team almost $230,000.
This type of response to improper fan conduct is much different from the way it is dealt with in North American sports, where the fans are responsible for their behavior rather than the team. The penalties are also much more lenient for similar actions.
One of the most notable fans to run onto a field during a game is Steven Consalvi. His scamper around Citizens Bank Park during a Phillies game ended with him being tasered by a security guard. His punishment for the crime was 80 hours of community service.
In a racist act during a preseason hockey game in London, Ontario, a fan threw a banana peel at Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds during a shootout attempt. The fan was charged with engaging in a prohibited activity under the Trespass Act. He paid a fine of $200 and did not have to appear in court. It would be hard to imagine what fan behavior would be like at the EURO 2012 if fines were this miniscule.