Opinion. Roman Shevtsov on UEFA turning a blind eye to repression by the ABFF

Photo: abff.by
3 mins

На русском языке: Мнение. Роман Шевцов о том, что УЕФА закрывает глаза на репрессии со стороны АБФФ
На беларускай мове: Меркаванне. «Беларускі парадак» пра сапраўдны фашызм

The telegram channel «Volka nogi kormyat», which writes about sports and politics, published a post that talks about the involvement of the Football Federation of Belarus (ABFF) in repressions against athletes, about corruption and how Belarusians can influence the situation. We quote the authors’ opinion unchanged.

A few days ago, Aleksander Čeferin, the president of the UEFA, gave an interview, where he said that Lukashenka does not control the BFF in any way. He added that the ABFF  «tries tirelessly to promote women’s football». What’s wrong with these statements?

First, about women’s football – the standard populism. It’s the case where you have to say something good – and he calls something that everyone likes. In football-related Europe, it’s women’s football now. Although the reality is infinitely far from this compliment, because Yuri Verheychik, the First Vice President of the ABFF, in 2016 and in 2018 publicly stated that women should not play football, but «give birth to children».

Second, in October 2021, the Sports Solidarity Fund sent a report to UEFA on ABFF violations. It gives examples of how the ABFF repressed athletes for political reasons, influenced the outcome of matches and tried to ensure the «correct» outcome in matches with ideologically «right» and «wrong» teams via appointment of the right referees. The entire report is here, and its main point are briefly presented here.

UEFA has been ignoring this report for months. Only a couple of weeks ago they said that nothing like this is happening in Belarusian football, everything is done correct and everything is according to the law. For comparison, the International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPRO) concluded that there is a high probability that human rights violations by the ABFF are committed under the leadership or in coordination with Lukashenka: «The behavior of the ABFF is a serious violation of human rights in football. Only the most severe sanctions are appropriate as a matter of urgency».

We can talk about the non-involvement of the ex-president in two cases: if you have not read the report or if you are going to cover for the dictator and his henchmen. The second option, as you understand, is our case.

Dictatorships love sports structures like UEFA a lot. Dictatorships in general like to use sports to legitimize themselves. After all, where else can you hang out in a VIP box with the presidents of civilized European countries if not at a football, hockey or any other world championship? Showing that here I am, a respected European/Asian/African ruler who is considered an equal.

By the way, medieval rulers willingly pay a lot of money to get into this party. And such cases become public. For example, in 2015, FIFA President Joseph Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini were trialed for corruption. They were accused that the World Cup in Qatar was «chosen» after impressive bribes.

Or another example from UEFA: in 2011-2013, UEFA Secretary General Gianni Infantino (now FIFA President) helped Manchester City and PSG to avoid punishment for violating financial fair play. City’s owner is a sheikh from the UAE, PSG’s owners are from Qatar.

Did the Belarusian dictatorship participate in such schemes? The question is rhetorical. A year ago, the World Hockey Championship was postponed from Minsk with great difficulty. The IIHF, represented by President Fasel, turned a blind eye to large-scale repressions, murders, and the suppression of rights and freedoms. And the reasons for this are quite obvious.

Despite all this, the Sports Solidarity Fund managed to achieve justice in hockey, although it seemed impossible a year and a half ago. Now they are kicking an even bigger hornet's nest – UEFA. Which refuses to notice not only the obvious political violations by the ABFF, but also sports, where the federation influences the outcomes of the championship matches.

The Foundation has recently submitted applications to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne. For the consideration of the cases of 9 applicants against ABFF and UEFA, the court demanded a fee of 22.5 thousand euros, which must be paid before January 7. If you want to help in this fight, you can do it here.

Defeating a colossus like UEFA may seem impossible. But we have already seen the impossible becoming a reality.

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