Tag Archives: El Hadji Diouf

Financial Penalties Are No Longer Fine

19 Jan

In any walk of life, effective disciplinary measures should not only punish the guilty party, they must also act as a deterrent against future misdemeanours.  There can, therefore, be few practices more pointless in modern football than the use of financial penalties to penalise football players, clubs and governing bodies.  Fines have long been used to deal with breaches of discipline, but their impact has lessened dramatically over the last 10-20 years.

The game is now awash with money, thanks to TV deals, billionaire owners and other revenue streams: as a result, managers and players who operate in the upper echelons of club football earn salaries which, to some, could be considered obscene.  Yet those who step out of line continue to be ‘punished’ by being asked to hand over sums of money which are the millionaire’s equivalent of loose change.

In March last year, Sir Alex Ferguson was fined £30,000 (along with a five-game touchline ban) following comments he made about referee Martin Atkinson.  For many people, such a figure is equivalent to a couple of years wages.  However, it’s not likely to make much of a dent in the finances of a man who, according to FourFourTwo, has a personal wealth of £27million.

Then there’s El Hadji Diuof.  He received a penalty of £5,000 for his conduct during Rangers’ Scottish Cup replay loss to Celtic last season, where he was sent off after the final whistle.  The broad smile on Diouf’s face as he left a hearing at Hampden Park told it’s own story – when you can afford to pay a reported £300k for a car, money tends not to be an issue.

Clubs and national associations are no different.  In October, Chelsea were fined £20,000 for failing to control their players during the controversial loss at QPR.  That’s the same Chelsea who are owned by Roman Abramovich and benefit from a TV deal with Sky, the amount of which could feed a small country.

In November, the Bulgarian FA were asked to shell out £34,250 following racist chants from their fans during a Euro 2012 qualifier against England.  This pitiful amount was consistent with other fines handed out previously to the governing bodies of Croatia and Spain for similar offences.

There has to be change.  If fines were to have an impact, players and clubs would have to be deducted huge amounts – at their present levels the games decision makers are doing little more than urinating into a very strong breeze.

The guilty parties have to be hit where it hurts.  For players, that means extended match bans.  All the money in the world will provide little consolation should they miss out on a league decider or a cup final as a result of a previous misdemeanour.

UEFA recently had the chance to lead by example, but they missed the opportunity to basically deny Wayne Rooney his place at Euro 2012 when they reduced his ban for lashing out at a Macedonian opponent.  At least the FA provided Luis Suarez with a significant suspension – eight games – after the incident with Patrice Evra, but again, what difference does the £40,000 fine make?

For clubs points deductions and stadium closures are the real fear.  Using the Chelsea example, perhaps Andre Villas-Boas and his players would give more thought to their conduct if it were to have a genuinely negative impact on their title challenge.

Any punishment should also include a social aspect, almost like football’s version of community service.  Due to the obscene salary levels now prevalent in the game, the gap between players and ordinary fans is the widest it has been since the creation of the game.  Anything that helps to bridge that divide can only be positive.

Rather than asking for an offender to hand over a sum of cash that means very little to them, involve them in something that benefits them as individuals and the local community.  Imagine the goodwill that would be generated from players and managers coaching kids, helping out with amateur clubs or even attending training sessions with referees.  Such a system may be difficult to administer and enforce, but it has to be preferable to the current process.

In years gone by, the fining of top-flight footballers worked because their earnings were such that a deduction was noticeable and significant.  The huge hike in salaries over the last 20 years however, means that alternative penalties must be sought.

Old Firm Overview

6 Feb

Some thoughts on the 2-2 draw between Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox.

1. An enthralling contest – Rangers could have been two goals ahead within four minutes, yet were hanging on by the end.  Had Steven Davis had scored instead of hitting the bar, things could have been very different.

2. Celtic will be the happier of the two sides.  They controlled the match, enjoying a ridiculous amount of possession, and bounced back from the early setback of going a goal behind.  Celtic are growing in confidence and are a very different proposition from the team who lost the first Old Firm game of the season.

3. A stunning opening goal from Jamie Ness – he could have perhaps been closed down sooner but nothing should take away from the quality of the strike.

4. Nikica Jelavic made an effective contribution, holding up the ball and bringing others into the game.  However, is he capable of delivering the goals that will fire Rangers to the title?

5. El Hadji Diouf showed some nice touches and seemed to relish his ‘contest’ with Scott Brown.  He doesn’t do himself any favours though, with his obstruction of Fraser Forster’s kick-out completely unnecessary.

6. Celtic’s midfield were excellent.  Kris Commons was again impressive before being replaced – Paddy McCourt has more natural ability but could learn a thing or two from Commons about positioning and linking up with team-mates.  Beram Kayal is a star in the making and the real Scott Brown is now standing up, even if he was wrong to taunt Diouf after scoring.

7. Forster has been a consistent performer in the Celtic goal this season, yet hasn’t enjoyed matches against Rangers.  Replays of the penalty incident were inconclusive, but Forster and his colleagues seemed to accept the decision, and the red card that followed, with little fuss.

8. Media ‘experts’ claimed on radio before kick-off that Neil Lennon had got his team selection wrong, by not partnering Gary Hooper with Anthony Stokes.  However, Lennon had the last laugh, providing further evidence of his development as a coach since the start of the season.  Any questions regarding Celtic’s ability to handle the big occasion have also been answered.

9. Rangers looked tired and appeared happy to play out the closing stages, but the last thing they needed was a replay, given their already busy schedule.  Their squad will be tested to the limit over the remainder of the season and recent additions Diouf and Healy will need to play their part if Rangers are to defend their title.

10. Celtic will be clear favourites for the replay and are beginning to look like frontrunners for the title.  Within their squad they have strength in depth that their great rivals simply cannot match, as well as the best defensive record in the SPL and two prolific strikers in Hooper and Stokes.  No trophies were won or lost at Ibrox, but the match could be an indication that the balance of power is shifting back towards the east end of Glasgow.