Thursday, June 21, 2012

UEFA Punishes Fan Behavior at Euro 2012

The London Olympic and Paralympic Games are only a month away, but that would be hard to tell by looking at the European sports media. Now, the eyes are on the European Championships in men’s soccer, which is about to continue today with the quarterfinals. 

Besides the exciting matches in the group round, a few things happened that are worth discussing.

UEFA, the European soccer federation made a commitmentto the fight against racism and seems to be taking action to live up to that commitment. 

Early in the tournament, the black players on the Dutch team were subjected to racist insults. Slowly, but UEFA reacted.

The Croatian fans decided to disregard the UEFA's warnings and instead offered a similarly problematic treatment to the Italian Mario Balotelli. The Croatian Soccer Federation (HNS) is now facing a fine equivalent to more than $100,000 in pounds.

This amount is in addition to the already existing penalty because of the fans who were throwing flares on the field during a match. Croatian team captain, Darijo Srna, attempted to put some sense into his fans down during the match against Spain by running towards the fans and gesturing to them to calm down. Apparently that did not work and now the Croatians will have to compensate the UEFA for the behavior of their fans. 

Croatian fans are not the only ones to cause trouble. England was also fined for their fans’ “inappropriate conduct.”

In the meantime, we are receiving reports about female fans, specifically, who do not need to be violent, racist or inappropriate to get attention. They just need to look good. The Mirror posted a slideshowof “50 stunning female fans.” The article was so popular that they decided to post a “Part II.”

What did NOT happen, at least not up to this point, is a beauty pageant for the players. Last year, during the coverage of the Women’s Soccer World Cup, the commentators on Eurosport television channel were taking votes from viewers for the “hottest player” of the tournament. Besides commenting on the game, they also offered an insightful analysis regarding whom the viewers should consider for that title and encouraged them to vote throughout the tournament’s coverage.

Unsurprisingly, the commenting of the men’s Euro 2012 is much more professional than the women’s World Cup: the focus is on the game itself and the players’ skills. 

At least the male players are not sexualized. But then, why would they be when we have the slide show of the best looking female fans?

I can't help but think that the attitude towards female athletes and the attitude towards female sports fans are somehow related. Both might be a result of a larger gender ideology which positions women to serve one, and only one, purpose in sports: to be looked at.

 -- Dunja Antunovic

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