Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Tue 23 October 2007

A ban of two halves

With all the tenacity that could earn them jobs in the UN Peacekeeping Corps, representatives from AC Milan have successfully negotiated with UEFA to ensure that the two game ban on goalkeeper Dida is halved with immediate effect.

Dida, you'll remember, did a fine job of acting out the part of an assassinated bystander when Celtic played AC Milan recently. As the game ended, a Celtic 'fan' ran onto the pitch following what turned out to be a winning goal for The Bhoys and tapped the Brazilian lightly on the side of the face. Dida gave chase before falling to the ground in dramatic fashion whereupon he received 'treatment' and was stretchered off clutching an ice pack.

To my mind, this shows nothing but weak, lily-livered administration on the part of the UEFA officials dealing with the matter. I think they've also missed a trick here. Had I been negotiating with the AC Milan representatives, I'd have said "Sure - we'll cut Dida's ban by half... as long as we can:

a) ...cut Celtic's fine by half"
b) ...cut Dida's match fee by half"
c) ...cut the number of hands Dida's allowed to use in his next game by half"
d) ...cut the number of points AC Milan accumulate in the group by half"

...and so on and so on.

What kind of message does UEFA think this will send out to anyone else who thinks they can bring bad fortune on their opponents by embarking on a career in acting? Dida will now only need to sit out tomorrow night's game against the mighty Shakhtar Donetsk before taking his place back in the side again, so how much of a punishment is that? Nothing short of a ban from the entire competition will do as far as I'm concerned and that's that.

Just keep this little incident in mind the next time you hear about UEFA's Fair Play initiative. If you prevent yourself from laughing openly with derision when you do, congratulations.

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