Manchester United striker Robin van Persie has branded UEFA ‘cowards’ for their ruling on Nani’s red card in United’s Champions League defeat to Real Madrid at Old Trafford earlier this month.
The Dutchman expressed his disappointment in the handling of the fixture in which, he claims, referee Cuneyt Cakir should not have even been appointed to officiate.
“I didn’t understand before the game that this man would be the referee, such an unknown referee who hasn’t been in charge of big games for months.
That red card was heavily unjustified. It was not even a yellow card or a free-kick. Nani couldn’t do anything about it, he hardly touched Arbeloa,” the 29-year-old said of his teammate’s ‘foul’ on Real Madrid’s Alavaro Arbeloa.
The decision to dismiss Nani was not ‘controversial’ or ‘contentious’, it was plain wrong – the referee got it wrong and these things happen in football.
I wrote an article this week with reference to the FA’s ruling on Wigan youngster Calum McManaman’s horrendous tackle on Newcastle’s Massadio Haïdara last weekend.
The FA chose to turn a blind eye to the challenge, instead of taking retrospective action against the foul, they shrugged their shoulders, buried their head in the sand and effectively said ‘well, the ref saw it so there’s nothing we can do.’
Synonymously, UEFA have shrugged their shoulders and buried their heads in the sand in the aftermath of United’s Champions League exit. Even Jose Mourinho and a number of Madrid associates have come out and said the referee got the decision wrong.
“The worst thing is that Uefa supports him. That’s cowardly, because I really don’t understand it,” continued Van Persie.
He’s spot on – it is cowardly in the same way that it’s cowardly to dish out minor fines for racism instead of taking a hard line, making a tough but just decision, to properly penalize racist players, clubs and or nations which would set a precedent that it racism is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
UEFA, the FA and FIFA as footballing authorities have absolute power over world football and with that power ought to come the responsibility to protect the game, it’s clubs, players and officials.
When Cuneyt Cakir sent Nani off he made the wrong decision – that happens – but rather than accept that he made a mistake and hold their hands up for which, frankly, I would applaud them for their character and honesty, they chose to hand out fines and bans to the manager and the player who the bad decision was inflicted upon.
These footballing authorities run the risk of making a mockery of the game – if they can’t keep control of their own regulations and instead prefer to waste paper with bureaucracy whilst taking no responsibility, fans, clubs and players will lose faith in their ability to regulate it and question their willingness to improve it.
Robin van Persie is correct; they are cowards and, as such, should not be granted such an unchallenged hold over football.
image: © Doha Stadium Plus