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UEFA Lets Spartak Off The Hook After Fans Hurl Racist Abuse At Liverpool Winger

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Disappointing and not at all surprising

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U16 Germany v U16 Netherlands - U16 UEFA Development Tournament Photo by Filipe Farinha/Bongarts/Getty Images

It is a truth universally acknowledged that UEFA couldn’t care less about racism.

We wrote late month that Liverpool filed a formal complaint with UEFA against Spartak Moscow. The two sides met in a UEFA Youth League fixture the same week of the respective clubs’ senior teams faced off in the Champions League. During that game— in which Liverpool suffered a 2-1 defeat— Spartak fans greeted Liverpool winger Bobby Adekanye with monkey noises and assorted racist chants after the Dutch youth international came on in the second half.

Racism? In Russian football? It’s more likely than you think!

A week or so after the complaint was lodged, UEFA seemed to take Liverpool’s complaint seriously enough that they filed charges against Spartak and opened a formal disciplinary hearing. Despite UEFA being ostensibly committed to opposing discrimination, going so far as to say No to racism (a truly radical step), their record when it comes to actually dealing with the problem is decidedly mixed. This led some Liverpool fans to maintain some skepticism that any meaningful sanctions would be levied against Spartak.

It turns out that skepticism was justified.

UEFA have concluded their investigation and found Spartak guilty as charged. Their punishment is as follows:

  • A partial closure of the Academy stadium for their next UEFA Youth League game, with at least 500 seats required to remain unfilled.
  • A banner must be draped over the empty seats that reads “#EqualGame”, in support of UEFA’s latest PR campaign designed to remind people that racism is bad, you guys.
  • That’s it. Literally nothing else is happening to Spartak Moscow because of this incident.

They’ve since been punished for fan misbehavior during the Champions League game, namely for setting off flares. Unsanctioned use of pyrotechnics during their Champions League tie with Liverpool has earned the club a fine of €33,000 and a ban on selling away tickets for their clash with Sevilla on 1st November.

The message from UEFA is pretty clear. Flares are terrible and using them will invoke the full might and fury of European football’s governing body. Hurling racist abuse at a player? Well, you know.