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The UEFA and FIFA Witch-Hunt of England’s ‘Big Four’
Prior to this week, the Blatter/Platini axis’s campaign against England’s big four had been mostly talk. But this week, it has taken an almost surreal twist as UEFA hand down a two-match ban to Eduardo and declare that they will not be looking to ban anyone else. This was followed by the extraordinary announcement from FIFA that Chelsea have been banned from registering any new players in either of the next two transfer windows keeping them from signing any new players until 1 January 2011.
Yesterday, UEFA announced:
The UEFA control and disciplinary body today examined the case of the Arsenal player Eduardo “for deceiving the referee” during the UEFA Champions League Playoff second leg on August 26 against Celtic, and have suspended the player for two UEFA club competition matches.
This judgment came down after taking less than an hour to consider all the video and a 19-page file which Arsenal had sent on Eduardo’s behalf. They obviously didn’t even read Arsenal’s defense thoroughly, if at all. Less than an hour!?!? This was not a judgment, it was a straight-up sentencing as Eduardo was already convicted in the minds of the panel before they ever even considered the evidence.
A fax was sent by UEFA to the club which went missing, another ended up at Arsenal Ladies, and, finally, a third reached the club 53 minutes after the panel was scheduled to convene. In a mere 53 minutes, they were able to look through the video evidence, read Arsenal’s 19-page defense, possibly look at the video again, and then send two misdirected faxes and finally the one that reached the club.
Arsenal now have three days to file an appeal, which we obviously will. Arsenal released this statement:
We strongly believe that the decision taken is deeply flawed and not based on any forensic review of the video evidence available. There are obvious errors and inconsistencies in UEFA’s judgment and we intend to appeal.
The Times is reporting what we all expected, that UEFA have “confirmed that there are no plans to institute a regular programme of video referral for matches under its jurisdiction or issue an anti-diving directive.” This means that Eduardo has been singled out and only he is worthy of a ban for diving. It doesn’t get more arbitrary than that. If Eduardo’s ban was the beginning of some kind of clamp down on the type of diving that won Wayne Rooney a penalty on Saturday, then even Arsenal fans could understand and possibly even support that logic. But there will be no clampdown. This was not done to stop diving, it was done so UEFA could save face but in the end they come off looking even worse than if they had just let it go.
Sepp Blatter and his minions over at FIFA are now using their muscle in the witch-hunt as they have taken the unprecedented step of banning Chelsea from signing any players until 1 January 2011 for allegedly tapping up Gael Kakuta, a then-15-year old from Lens, and persuaded him to break his contract with the club to sign for Chelsea. The boy was free to sign a professional contract at the age of 16 but in the meantime he was still under contract to Lens until his birthday at which point they would decide whether to offer him a professional deal or not. This is the standard progression for clubs’ youth programs.
Chelsea made their interest in Kakuta known to Lens who offered to sell him for 5m euros. However, Lens claimed that Chelsea then not only made contact with the player before his birthday, and therefore still under contract, in an effort to get around having to pay Lens a fee, but that Chelsea actually offered him a contract which he signed.
Chelsea will appeal the decision. It seems unduly harsh, as nice as it would be for us, as other clubs have been found guilty of tapping up but none have been given such a severe penalty. In addition to the registration restriction, Chelsea have been ordered to pay Lens £113,000 while Kakuta has been suspended for four months and ordered to pay a £682,000 fine. This means that Chelsea may not be able to get reinforcements this January to help the squad cope with their ACN-induced absences.
Lens President, Gervais Martel, said:
It’s an important message given that protecting up and coming youth players who are contracted to clubs is an issue being followed closely by Uefa president Michel Platini.
Especially those contracted to French clubs, apparently. Platini has been a vocal critic of all things English, even Arsene Wenger. Arsenal Station covered his ridiculous outburst last year about Wenger to a French newspaper in an article entitled, “Fuck Platini!” When FIFA were asked about the exorbitant punishments being handed down to English clubs, they said that they had “deemed it to be established that the English club induced the player to such a breach.” But that doesn’t explain the unprecedented punishment.
Both of these unfortunate situations are of a piece and are a direct result of Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini’s two-man crusade to rid the Champions League semifinals of English clubs and replace them with three Spanish clubs and an Italian side.