Boxers, Betting and Bendtner: UEFA again show themselves as idiots
Yesterday, UEFA announced that our favourite extremely humble striker Nicklas Bendtner was fined £80,000 and banned for one competitive match. Why? For celebrating a goal against Portugal by baring a pair of boxer shorts which had the name of betting company Paddy Power across the waistband.
Now, there are a number of questions this throws up:
1) It can probably be assumed that these boxers were provided to Bendtner by Paddy Power on the premise that he might do this celebration. In that case, why on earth would Paddy Power pick Bendtner to back? Unless they were hoping he’d celebrate after skying a ball dramatically into the Ukrainian air?
2) Why would UEFA even waste their time punishing such a frivolous act? Anyone who see Paddy Power on Bendtner’s boxers and therefore thinks “Man, I gotta go place a bet with them right now” frankly deserves to lose all their money at the bookies.
3) How can UEFA be taken seriously when they fine a player three times as what they fine a country for racial chanting by fans and beating up stewards?
UEFA will say that rules are rules. Advertising is a powerful tool (remember how many people bought chocolate just because a gorilla drummed along to Phil Collins?) and you really can’t have players being paid to advertise companies in front of worldwide audiences during a match (I wonder if a player would get fined if in a post-match interview he said “Yes, I played very well, and that goal was brought to you by Paddy Power”?). The removal of clothes in goal celebrations particularly seems to be a bit of a bug bear for the English FA. Why they insist that players must be booked for removing their shirts after a goal is beyond me. Is it because someone might get offended? Is it because they might have a Mario Balotelli bib moment when trying to get the shirt back on?
Even more annoying is the crackdown on players getting booked for not taking their shirt off, but lifting it up to reveal some kind of message. This has forced referees to use common sense, and in a way, make a mockery of the rule by not booking players in exceptional circumstances. Billy Sharp was not booked (and the referee was applauded) when he reveal a shirt in tribute to his deceased child after scoring, just days after his tragic death. However, Andres Iniesta was booked after scoring the winner in the World Cup final for removing his shirt to show a tribute to the late Daniel Jarque. Considering the things that went unpunished in that game (see Xabi Alonso’s chest for more details), it seems bizarre that Iniesta deserved a booking for that; I know for a fact that if I’d scored the winner in the World Cup final I’d have my shirt, shorts, socks, boots, everything off. I’d just run around doing naked cartwheels for a while.
On a more serious note, what this fine for Bendtner shows is that UEFA seems to have no grip on reality. The fact that this season Porto were fined just £16,700 for the racial abuse of Mario Balotelli does not show UEFA in a good light. The whole idea of a fine is to act as a deterrent. How can UEFA claim they care about racism in the game when giving out these kind of paltry punishments, whilst fining Bendtner over four times as much for an offence a hundred times less? I think that FIFA should intervene and fine UEFA for not fining their clubs enough. UEFA should’ve thrown the book at Porto; fine them millions, kick them out of UEFA competitions, it would soon get them to ban their abusive fans if the threat of no Champions League was dangled in front of them. UEFA need to take a serious look at their priorities. Even when UEFA do come down fast and (slightly) hard on a nation, they still bottle it. UEFA gave Russia a fine and a suspended six point deduction after their fans’ horrific treatment of Polish stewards in their first game at Euro 2012. Then in the second match, Russia get fined again for fan behaviour, but somehow this doesn’t activate the points deduction? It’s as if UEFA make the rules up as they go along.
Personally, I can’t wait for the World Cup in Russia, should be a hoot. I hope that all Danish strikers run around with branded boxer shorts on after every goal. Maybe UEFA will deduct them of their pants or something idiotic like that!