Racism in Romanian football

Racism in football – the situation in Romania by Valeriu Nicolae19 March 2006 – Steaua Bucharest plays against FC National in the national football league in Romania . Razvan Lucescu, the coach of Rapid Bucharest, is forced to leave the stadium after 80 minutes of racist abuse.During the entire game, Steaua’s gallery yells racist chants against him “go out you stinky crow”, “die gypsy” and “we hate the gypsies”.[1] He needs protection to leave the stadium. During the same match the captain of Steaua Bucharest, Mirel Radoi, racially abuses the Nigerian player of FC National, Agunbiande Abioudun[2], whom he repeatedly calls “crow” and “gipsy”.Earlier that month, both Steaua Bucharest and Rapid Bucharest qualified for the UEFA Cup. UEFA announced that the teams would play against each other during the next round of the Cup. Following this announcement, the Romanian President Traian Basescu welcomed both teams at the Presidential Palace and congratulated the players for their UEFA victories. He underlined the importance of fair play and respect during future UEFA games, and handed distinctions to the players and staff.Early in the year of 2006, under pressure from civil society and presidency, Romania adopted Ordinance 11/2006, aimed at preventing and reducing racism in Romanian football stadiums. The ordinance not only bans materials which might incite spectators to racial hatred and xenophobia, but also places responsibility on the organisers of events to prevent such banners or flags from entering the stadiums. The legislative act includes tough fines and consequences for racist and violent acts by spectators or organisers in the stadiums. Hooligans can be banned for a period of 6 months to 3 years.In February the Romanian Football Federation for the first time sent a representative to the UEFA’s second Unite Against Racism conference, which took place in Barcelona . This signalled a change of attitude of the Federation towards tackling racism. During the conference a presentation on anti-Gypsyism in Romanian stadiums was shown.Up to the ugly incidents on 19 March it can be said that there were improvements in Romania, but it is clear that there still is a very long way to go. The political class and the Romanian President proved their commitment to kicking racism out of football. Racists need to be told to shut up, and it is up those who really love football who have the responsibility to tell them.A short history of incidents in 2005… On 13 April, during a game between Steaua Bucharest and Rapid Bucharest, Steaua’s supporters use anti-Gypsy chants: “We have always hated gypsies, we have always urinated on you” and “Stinky Gypsies”. After the game Gabi Safta, the presenter at the home games of Steaua Bucharest, verbally abused the coach of Rapid, Razvan Lucescu whom he called a “stinky Gypsy”. After the match, the observer of the Romanian Football League, Valentin Alexandru, declared “The game was played in normal conditions”, he added “everything happens you (the media) blow it out of proportion… what if they played those songs on the stadium speakers (“Gypsies and the UFO’s” was played during the intermission) …those are songs sung by those a little bit darker.” Both teams were fined by the National Council Against Discrimination following the incidents.On 6 September UEFA’s president Lennart Johannson says to a British newspaper following racism during a round of UEFA games: “We are concerned about racism, particularly in Bulgaria and Romania .” A few days later, UEFA announced that it would increase the initial fine for racist incidents during an UEFA game against Shelbourne. Steaua Bucuresti’s stadium is suspended for the next UEFA game. This is the first time a stadium is suspended for racism by UEFA.As a result, an enormous scandal erupts in the Romanian press which sees a remarkable turn-around of the Romanian media against racism in sports as it starts reporting on racist incidents. Valentin Alexandru from the Romanian Football League declared that there is no racism in the stadiums and that “them, the Roma, are a shame for our country”. Cristi Bivolaru, the head of international relations at the Romanian Football Federation (FRF) and an observer for the European football authority UEFA, stated: “The English had two crows[3] in their team and the spectators in the stadium made crow sounds. They made crow sounds to the crows. That was all. UEFA fined them for that there is no way there are major problems with racism as Johansson said.”In a report in October, the European Commissions sent an uncharacteristically clear and no-nonsense signal to Romania : “The Romanian authorities should demonstrate, at all levels, that the country applies a zero-tolerance policy on racism against Roma or against any other minority or group and that this policy is effectively implemented.”[4]On 23 October Steaua and Rapid Bucuresti played for the Romanian Championship. A banner referring to zero tolerance for gypsies “Last chance for Romania – zero tolerance” was displayed.[5] The gallery chanted “We hate the crows, suspend us!” and displayed a huge banner representing a crow. Racist chants against Roma directed to the Roma player of Steaua Bucharest Banel Niculita were also heard from the gallery of Rapid Bucharest. The Romanian Football League, lead by Dumitru Dragomir, who is member of the extremist party Romania Mare and was investigated for owning an anti-Semitic publication, once again sent Valentin Alexandru to the game as observer. Both teams are fined by the National Council Against Discrimination following the incidents and their stadiums are suspended for one game.In December 2005, Cristi Bivolaru resigns from his position under serious pressure.http://www.romanetwork.org/Football.html

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