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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

UEFA's Illogical Punishment Standards

Last week, after the return leg of the Inter x Valencia Champions League match, violence occurred after the game between several of the respective players. The incident was created by the idiotic actions of one Valencia player: David Navarro. He did not even play in the game. Señor Navarro, in his infinite wisdom, ran onto the field, unseen by his target, to strike Inter's Nicolas Burdisso in the nose. Which resulted in a fractured nose, along with the mayhem that followed. Several Inter players rose to the defense of their comrade, and chased Navarro off of the field. Three Inter players, Francesco Toldo, Luis Figo, and Esteban Cambiasso tried to force their way into the Valencia dressing room to confront Navarro.

Today, UEFA, the European governing body of soccer, provided their "sentences." David Navarro, who has since apologized profusely for his behavior, was suspended from all competitions for seven months. His teammate, Carlos Marchena, who was arguing after the game with Burdisso, was given a four game ban.

Ironically, and illogically, four Inter Milan players were sanctioned. Incredibly, Nicolas Burdisso was given a six game suspension from all European competitions. Fellow teammate, Douglas Maicon, received the same penalty. Julio Cruz and Ivan Cordoba, who chased the coward, Navarro, from the field, received two and three game bans, respectively. Each team was fined 111,000 pounds (about $225,000) for the incident. After the game, the Inter Milan bus was pelted with rocks and other projectiles. Both teams may appeal within three days. The other ironic aspect is that Navarro will be eligible to play in UEFA competions before Burdisso can next season.

This situation reminds me of the logic, or lack thereof, to suspend Marco Materazzi from two European games after Zidane of France headbutted him. As Paolo Maldini said at the time, “It’s scandalous to ban a player just for saying something. It’s the first time that it’s happened and it’s only because Materazzi is Italian and they want to justify the action of a great champion who made a mistake.” (1)

Since Inter were eliminated from the Champions League, these ridiculous actions will be punished next year. But for those of us who viewed the videos, as UEFA did, there is an obvious contradiction. At the beginning of all Champions League games there is a huge banner that proclaims, "Fair Play." I will leave it for others to decide what is fair, and what is a different standard. Notice that in this case, and the more famous one involving Materazzi, Italian clubs were involved.


(1) Football Italia: Matrix Ban Causes Outrage. 21 July 2006.

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