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Euro Cup 2024 And the Double Standards of the Disciplinary Committee 

  • July 6, 2024
  • 5 min read
Euro Cup 2024 And the Double Standards of the Disciplinary Committee 

As Euro 2024 gets into high gear with quarter final matches attracting global viewership and attention, the conduct of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the main organisers of the tournament, has come into question generating intense debate among football lovers across continents. Central to the debate is the double standards shown by UEFA while taking disciplinary action against two erring players. The players who were “punished” in extremely different ways were Turkey’s Merih Demiral and England’s Jude Bellingham.

Crotch grabbing gesture by Jude Bellingham of England

Both had come up with what the UEFA termed as objectionable gestures during their matches in the pre-quarter stage of the tournament. But the disciplinary action taken against the two players was starkly different. While Demiral was slapped with a two match suspension for making a ‘Wolf’ gesture during Turkey’s successful match against Austria, England’s Bellingham was let off with just a €20,000 fine for making a crotch-grabbing gesture at the Slovakian benches, the losing team in the match.

Significantly, 26 year old Demiral is a key player in the Turkish team and had scored both the goals in Turkey’s 2-1 win over Austria. Demiral’s “Wolf” gesture is apparently associated with Turkey’s far-right and ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves organisation, which is banned in Austria and deemed a terror organisation by the EU. However, The ‘grey wolf’ sign is not a banned symbol in Germany, where the match took place.

Grey wolf sign by Merih Demiral of Turkey

According to Demiral, the controversial gesture, in which one or both hands mimic the shape of a wolf’s head, is related to his “Turkish identity,” and is not linked to any terrorist organisation. The ban imposed on this talented player will see him miss Turkey’s quarter-final against the Netherlands and, if they advance, the semi-final also. Demiral’s superb football skills would be greatly missed by Turkey in the crucial quarter final against Netherlands.

The visuals of England’s Bellingham after the match with Slovakia included a kiss to his own right hand followed by a crotch-grabbing gesture, aimed at the Slovakian bench. Bellingham’s explanation was that the gesture was in connection to “an inside‑joke towards some close friends who were at the game” and in no way aimed at the Slovakia bench. He later tweeted the same explanation.

Jude Bellingham’s tweet

As Euro 2024 quarter final matches progress, the debate among football fans is about the double standards shown by UEFA in dealing with the gestures of the two players. Turkey is forced to face the Netherlands without Demiral, while England can continue to rely on Bellingham’s presence on the field in their next encounter. Several football fans have commented in social media platforms against the UEFA action with some of them reminding the football body that true sportsmanship should originate from the tournament governing bodies who should set an example and create such traditions that players and fans would like to emulate.

Many of these social media comments have also highlighted how the Romanian fans displayed exemplary sportsman spirit after Romania’s 0-3 loss against the Netherlands. The Romanian fans remained calm, positive, and composed throughout the match, though their team was at the receiving end of superior football by the Dutch. Asked by some journalists as to how they remained composed in spite of the defeat, some of the fans responded by saying they did not want their emotions to disturb the team. Several Romanian players reciprocated their love towards the fans too after their defeat. Players were evidently elated to see the fans cheering them despite their team’s elimination from the tournament.

Romanian player’s celebration along with fans in the stands

The behaviour, attitude and discipline of the Romanian fans also came up for comments on social media. Some of the comments compared the Romanian composure with the attitude of the fans from many other nations. Some of them pointed out, citing past instances, that if England had lost in a similar fashion, fan behaviour on and off the stadium would have been terrible. When England lost to Italy on penalties in finals of the last edition of Euro championship, English fans were brick batting, destroying the vehicles outside the stadium and abusing their own players with nasty racial remarks, especially targeted towards Rashford, Saka and Sancho who missed the penalties in the tiebreaker.

England fans vandalising security property outside the Stadium after last Euro Cup Finals

These debates on the conduct of teams, fans and the UEFA disciplinary department has brought a new dimension to the spectator experience of Euro 2024. It remains to be seen how the UEFA top brass reacts to the criticism against them. Whatever their response the fact remains that Turkey has been divested of the services of one of its star players.

About Author

VK Abdul Nisar

V.K Abdul Nisar, Former Personnel and Welfare Officer in the High Commission of India in London and former ACP, Kerala Police.

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