This is the list of fines dished out by Uefa at Euro 2012. Spot the odd one out.
- €80,000 for the setting-off and throwing of fireworks, and the improper conduct of supporters (racist chants, racist symbols) at the Group C match against Italy on 14 June
- €30,000 for the setting off and throwing of fireworks and the improper conduct of supporters (display of inappropriate and racist banners) at the Group C fixture against Spain in Gdansk on 18 June
- €25,000 for the setting-off and throwing of fireworks and missiles, and a pitch invasion by a supporter, at the Group C game v Republic of Ireland
- €7,000 for the inappropriate behaviour of their supporters – attempted invasion of the field of play by a fan – at the quarter-final against the Czech Republic in Warsaw on 21 June
- €5,000 for a delayed kick-off to the second half of their match v Germany
- €10,000 for the throwing of missiles by its supporters at Group B match against Portugal
- €25,000 for improper conduct of their supporters at Group B match against Denmark
- €120,000 and six points suspended sentence for Euro qualifying for improper conduct of its supporters (crowd disturbances), the setting off and throwing of fireworks and the display of illicit banners at Group A match against the Czech Republic
- €30,000 for the setting off and throwing of fireworks by spectators, displaying of illicit banners and the invasion of the pitch by a supporter at Group A match against Poland
- €35,000 for the setting off and throwing of fireworks by spectators, and displaying of illicit banners at the Group A match against Greece
- €4,000 for the setting off of fireworks by spectators at the match against Russia
- €5,000 for the inappropriate conduct of their supporters – attempted invasion of the field of play – at the Group D match against Sweden
- striker Nicklas Bendtner banned for one competitive fixture and fined €100,000 for improper conduct at the Group B match against Portugal
Of course the odd one out is the last one on the list, Arsenal and Denmark’s Mr Modesty, Nicklas Bendtner, because all the other fines were given to football associations of various countries, and all but one were for things that didn’t happen as part of the game or on the pitch. You could argue if you were pedantic enough that Portugal’s fine for turning up late was also off the pitch, and by the nature of being late to start wasn’t actually part of the game either; whatever.
For the record, and contrary to popular opinion, Bendtner’s was not the biggest fine, as Russia were fined more for their various offences at their match against the Czechs, including far-right banners – so a bit of racism in the mix there.
Popular opinion also has it that Uefa shouldn’t have fined Bendtner so much, because their fines for racism are often much smaller. Two things here: Bendtner was fined too little, not too much, and comparing these fines is comparing apples and oranges, if not chalk and cheese.
Racism first. Racism is a criminal offence in most civilised countries, and rightly so. But what is the purpose of fining football associations for it? That isn’t going to stamp out the problem. There are cameras in stadiums all the time, and if the cameramen at the Euros didn’t spend all their time focussing on attractive ladies they’d easily spot any racist offenders. Why don’t Uefa see to it that the perpetrators are arrested? If there are criminal offences going on, then treat the people doing them like criminals. If they must punish football associations surely it’s better to do it by banning them from competitions or making them play behind closed doors? Those aren’t as good solutions as actually arresting the guilty parties, because they punish all the decent law-abiding supporters as well, but are surely more effective than a fine? So I’m not personally bothered by ‘small’ fines dished out by Uefa, I’m more bothered by their choice of actions in the first place.
As for Mr Bendtner, he is a class one berk, which most Arsenal fans knew anyway. He, unlike the supporters who caused almost all of the other fines, is a professional in football and should know how to behave and follow rules. He wilfully broke the rules. I don’t particularly care about the companies who are official sponsors of the Euros, and whether their toes were trodden on metaphorically by a pair of sponsored pants. But I do care that others should be discouraged from the same idiocy. Unfortunately Bendtner isn’t being financially punished because PaddyPower have said they are paying his fine, and PaddyPower aren’t being punished either because they have got far more than €100,000 of publicity out of it, and must be laughing themselves stupid at people saying their stooge got fined too much. Presumably Bendtner also got paid by PaddyPower for the stupid stunt, so he is actually in profit. And PaddyPower are still laughing.
However, as well as the fine that seemed to annoy so many people for all the wrong reasons, Bendtner is banned from one competitive match, so he has disadvantaged his country in their next qualifying group. I really hope the Danish FA fine him and preferably drop him from all the other qualifiers to teach him a lesson. Of course it would have been better if Uefa had done the job properly and fined him €1m and banned him for 20 matches. Then perhaps others would be deterred from the same stupidity. But by no reasonable or logical measure was Bendtner’s fine too low.