The loneliness of the referee or why in Spain almost nothing ever happens after the racist chants



England strengthens the criminal justice system to combat racism and Italy punishes the clubs. Spain does not take either of the two paths and unloads on the collegiate

De Burgos Bengoetxea spoke with Vinicius, last Sunday.
De Burgos Bengoetxea spoke with Vinicius, last Sunday.Biel AlinoEFE
  • Santander League Vinicius receives racist insults at the Mestalla, ends up expelled for an attack and says goodbye with “Second Division” gestures
  • Santander League Vinicius explodes against Spain: “A country that I love and that is now known as a country of racists”

A precedent. Just one. In Spain, only one professional football match has been postponed due to insults from the fans: it was the Rayo Vallecano-Albacete Segunda game played in December 2019 and had a peculiarity. One of the visiting players, Roman Zozulia, was accused of Nazism by the Vallecas crowd and his teammates decided not to play the second half. That is, he was not the referee’s decision.

In 2007 Spain approved the Law against violence, racism, xenophobia and intolerance in sport, but its use has been very limited. Years ago, in 2004, an England-Spain game at the Santiago Bernabú ended in embarrassment due to racist chants against cole, Wright-Phillips, Ferdinand, Defoe either jenasall black players, and that is why after the Government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero I decided to create a protocol to combat this scourge.

Thanks to article 15 of that Law, the referee can suspend the match or vacate the stadium, whatever he deems. It also has intermediate tools, such as the temporary suspension or the eviction of a group of people, but it has a problem: everything is in its hands. Although he has had the help of a video assistant referee (VAR) for years, for a decision so critical, so tricky, even so risky, he is alone. And so it is difficult to decree the postponement of the party.

In fact, in the majority of cases experienced in Spain, everything has remained an anecdote: at most, one stop and one message over the loudspeaker. From Dario Silva in Oviedo in 2000 to the controversy between diakhaby and Juan Cala last year, hardly any interruptions are remembered, such as the one that took place in Gijn in 2016 due to chants against Iaki Williams. Is it different in other places?

In England, in Italy…

Yes and no. FIFA and UEFA have a three-step protocol against racism that is practically a carbon copy of Spanish: first, ask through the public address system to stop the chants; second, suspend the game for a few minutes; and third, suspend the match permanently. For this reason, there have been no cancellations in national team matches or in the Champions League despite the many incidents, such as in the 2019 Montenegro-England match or the 2020 PSG-Basakshir match in which the fourth referee insulted Webo. But the different leagues have created their plans to try to combat the scourge.

The most different approach is found in the Premier. In England, the sole responsibility does not lie with the referee and the first step is not the loudspeaker messages. With its six-step protocol, racist shouting is treated as a public order problem and, for this reason, the collegiate must warn those responsible for security, who are the ones who must identify the perpetrators on site, file the complaint and expel them at the moment if they consider it.

With such an action, an attempt is made to avoid what is happening in Spain, where some complaints are archived due to difficulties in personalizing what happened and, at the same time, targeting the individual, not the group. Quite the opposite of what happens in Italy. With Balotetti as a regular victim, in Serie A racist insults have been repeated in recent years -a lukaku in Cagliari, to kessi in Verona, to Dalbert in Bergamo, to Koulibaly in Rome…- and the matches have not been stopped either, although there have been harsh sanctions after the fact. The most common: the closure of the stands where the ultras are usually placed.

In Spain this has never happened, in fact the partial closure of El Molinn was dismissed due to the offenses against Iaki Williams in 2016, and most cases have been resolved without being able to identify the perpetrators or with the temporary withdrawal of their subscription. .

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