UEFA’s Russian Ban Is Bad News For Their Credibility Even As It’s Good For Celtic.

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Aleksandr Sobolev is the potential Ibrox killer we never heard of.

The reason we never heard of him is that he never actually played against them.

But had he been allowed to we might all know his name.

Why did he never play against them? Well, he didn’t because he’s a striker at Spartak Moscow, and they were banned from Europe before they were due to take on RB Leipzig in the Europa League.

Aleksandr Sobolev is not a member of the Russian military. He has not taken a shot at a single Ukrainian solider or civilian. He’s not a member of the Russian government, nor one of the oligarchs. He has never committed a war crime.

Yet UEFA banned him and his team from taking any further part in that competition, and they have banned his countrymen (and women) from taking part in European football competitions next year.

We are in the midst of Cancel Russia.

And a lot of people in and around sport, culture and the arts don’t think that is in the least bit fair.

Who has the right to take a decision like that, closing down any participation in the global game for an entire nation based on the actions of its government? Is there an historical precedent for it? In fact, yes. South Africa during apartheid was banned from nearly all international sports. So it has been done, and it will certainly be done again.

UEFA finds itself in one Hell of a weird place here though.

This is the organisation which claims that football belongs to the world and the game must leave politics at the door.

It’s clear that the Russian teams have not violated a single sporting regulation.

This is not about cheating, bribery or corruption.

They aren’t violating FFP.

They have done nothing wrong except be Russian.

So this is clearly, demonstrably, a political decision … and one that actually looks utterly hypocritical to a lot of people.

After all, when the West invaded Iraq without just cause, without international support or UN sanction it did not result in British clubs being banned from Europe; there is an obvious racism in the idea that white Europeans are more worth protecting than Arabs and Muslims.

The double standard doesn’t have to be pointed out. It’s obvious.

UEFA has clearly taken a side in this conflict, and most people would agree that they are on the right side.

But does UEFA have any business being on a side in this?

Because UEFA doesn’t take a side on the Israel-Palestine dispute and they let Israeli teams into European tournaments.

Is it more severe when it is Russian helicopters firing rockets at civilian areas than it is when the Israelis do it?

Is it less harsh for us to drop bombs on Iraq and interfere in assisting the downfall of the Libyan government, say, than when a European nation tries to knock off another one?

We’re the civilised world … so we should be allowed to bomb, but woe betide anyone who bombs us?

UEFA’s stance on political activism is staggeringly hypocritical and one sided, and in terms of one sided I have never had issues with it.

They want to keep right wing activists and racists out of football grounds; great.

But they have banned left-wing expression along with it, under the mistaken belief that you can’t allow one without the other.

We know what the difference is between hate speech and political expression, and so does UEFA and it is time that they ditched the contradictions and the idiocy and accepted that left-wing expression is not the same as far-right hatred.

Their decision on the Russian teams is good news for Celtic; we’d have made the Groups anyway but this puts a tin hat on it and puts automatic qualification in play for next season too.

We can all see that there are benefits for our club.

But UEFA’s foray into politics here flatly contradicts everything they have said and written and done in relation to our club and others these past two decades.

They have shot what is left of their own credibility on this matter.

By banning an entire nation’s clubs, when they’ve broken no rules, just to make a geopolitical point … well they have some balls trying to fine clubs whose fans put up a couple of banners.

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  • John S says:

    All people paying taxes to Nation-States are, of course, supporting them. The sight of England players giving the Nazi salute at the 1936 Olympic Games was abhorrent.

    • Seppington says:

      I assume you live in the UK and pay taxes to the UK government? Does that mean you endorse all UK foreign policy?

  • Eamonn Little says:

    Thank you James,it’s high time some among our fan base stood up to this cancel culture.Virtue signalling for Ukraine,but ignoring others suffering.

  • Eamonn Little says:

    Well said James,this cancel culture is outrageous.Virtue signallers for Ukraine,indifference for others.

  • REBELLIOUS says:

    Yes double standards it seems, personally I’d ban the Russians until they’ve made amends for their destruction in Ukraine. ie. Leave it as they found it, they might think twice before doing it again.
    They now want Ukraine to be landlocked and for me, that’s as good as saying ‘we’re here and we won’t leave until we have this whole country back under Russian rule.’

    ‘Sometimes’ you have to pick a side AND stick with it right to the end.

  • Johnny Green says:

    Hypocritical or not, I am all for banning the Russians from European competition. None of them are innocent, it is the government that they voted in that is committing the atrocities on the Ukranian people. They are all guilty in my eyes.

    • Seppington says:

      “…the government they voted in…”

      Given the level of corruption and intimidation in Russia that is very much debatable.

  • Martin H. says:

    Support you on a lot off things James, but this political view is totally over the top, there are people on both sides of political spectrum that read and support your blogs, and just remember there are always mistakes on both sides.

  • Sean says:

    I agree with the banning of all Russian athletes, whether it’s there fault or not. And comparing this to the Iraq invasion is ridiculous, there were multiple governments who agreed on the invasion of Iraq, whether you agreed with it or not. Russia along with there rogue allies Belarus , are condemned by almost every person on earth. Uefa are 100 percent right to ban all Russians. Nothing personal against Russian people, but it’s the right decision.

  • Michael McCartney says:

    Well said James, the hypocrisy by EUFA and FIFA is clear. Of course anyone who abhors injustice detests The Russian violence against a neighbouring Nation State. The US and UK were guilty of wageing an unjust war against Iraq a nation thousands of miles away from both the the US and UK shores who attacked, bombed and invaded them in 2003. No sanctions imposed by FIFA or EUFA.
    A bit of consistency is missing here Israel is another country that gets away with treating its Palestinian neighbours very unfairly using way over the top violence against them.
    How ridiculous for EUFA to fine fans for waving political banners in support of oppressed people whilst banning sportsmen selectively when it suits them.

  • john clarke says:

    I will speak in support of Belarusian tennis players. The All England Lawn Tennis Club are wrong to ban individuals especially Belarusians. Lukashenko the President since 1994 and de facto dictator leader of Government, is despised by most of the populace. When he won his sixth election in 2020 by 80% of the vote (scrutineers say rigged), the people protested in massive numbers only to be violently crushed by Security Police and KGB. Anyone who has a remote chance to beat Lukashenko is not permitted to stand.
    Victoria Azarenka an opinion leader of women’s tennis has expressed her outrage, horror and sorrow of Putin’s war against Ukraine. She hugged a Ukrainian opponent and expressed her sympathy and grief. I would like Director, Tim Henman to speak in support of the Belarusian tennis players but he has to toe the line, once a decision is made.
    Please AELTC change your decision and allow Belarussian players to play and enjoy the wonderful experience of Wimbledon. They should not suffer because of their ning-nong dictator President. Vica Azarenka is distraught on two fronts. She is loved by the tennis fraternity.

  • Tony cullinane says:

    Spot on, keep politics out of sport,

  • john clarke says:

    I did not want to say more….but will continue my cogent case in support of Belarusian tennis players. A majority of Belarusians detest Lukashenko and want him gone. The vast majority of Russians like Putin, but the tide against him although turning, still has insufficient momentum for change. Since May 2020, Lukashenko has borrowed $2 billion dollars from Master Putin to prop up his dastardly, economically stressed regime. When the people protested against Lukashenko in 2020, Putin offered to send in his Reserve Police to stop the revolt spreading from Minsk to other cities. Putin has extended the timeline for paying off the Belarusian debt. Putin has Lukashenko in his squirrel grip.
    The Belarusian populace fear Puppet Master Putin, more than they fear Lukashenko. THEY ARE POWERLESS TO DO ANY THING ABOUT IT. Belarusians are victims of Putin’s War. The majority of Russian are only victims of their own stupidity and indoctrination by Putin and Co (hand-picked Security Council…unrepresentative swill)
    To the Tofts, Lords and Tories of AELTC; PLEASE allow the Belarusian tennis players to compete in your Tournament at Wimbledon. What a waste of my time!

  • Michael McCartney says:

    Sean You’ve a big tip for yourself for someone who hasn’t an original thought in your head.
    No one on this site has supported the shocking Russian aggression in Ukraine, but some of the fair minded among us have agreed with James that EUFA are not being consistent when deciding what issues are political and not political.
    As far as The Iraq war goes the aggressive action taken by the US and the UK was unpopular with the majority in the UK, was found to be illegal and based on a lie by the UN.
    and helped to destabilise the whole Middle East which is still suffering the after effects.

  • Michael McCartney says:

    Sean, I am not your pal and I am not a yes man to the British State like you. Putin is a completely cruel and dangerous despot. Unlike you I am not selective in what State I criticise for invading other countries. No state has the right to appoint itself to police the world without the permission of the UN.
    Politics is not a black and white world as you seem to view it. There are lots of grey areas.

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