You Got That Empty Feeling

Date: 18th June 2022

This written piece is provided to you by Donald Stewart.

You Got That Empty Feeling

“Maybe it is me but when somebody says nobody should be there, I think the place should be empty.

I have, in the past understood the way in which appeals get used to delay the punishment in football. As loopholes go, they appear benign enough. When we at Ayr United had one of our players suspended for a crucial run of games we appealed. The appeal delayed the beginning of the suspension and he got to play in the vital games in the meantime.

It didn’t work well for us, and he was less of a talisman than we thought, and we lost the majority of them, but the principal was established in my mind. You need to read the rules so you can amend their impact; or bend them!

Due to the embarrassing scenes at the Euro 2022 Final at Wembley, England shall host Italy behind closed doors at Molineux. It is a punishment for not being able to control the crowd that day. It is well deserved.

There shall, however, be 3,000 school children, with 300 adults, at the stadium. They shall almost all be England fans, I would presume.

I do know a wee bit about the English education system and for bye the examples set by parents and adults at the Euro 2022 riot, these young people will, I am sure be well behaved and enthusiastic supporters of the game.

Now I do not think that England tried to wriggle out of their punishment and took the hit. The scenes were an international embarrassment. Moving the game to somewhere close to where the Commonwealth Games shall be held later this year is great too. Having children and young people attend is a bit of a decent move as well. Even though I still think behind closed doors should be a COVID style atmosphere or it is not really a ban at all I can see the positives coming out of a negative.

Until I think of Hungary.

Over 30,000 children and young people, supported by over 3,000 adults in the Puskas Stadium booing the taking of the knee by the English team doubled down on the very reason why Hungary were being forced to play behind closed doors in the first place.

I believe that their next game should be played in a neutral venue.

If the Hungarian education system creates children and young people who are against the message of tolerance and equity, then action ought to be taken when it appears in a sporting stadia by the very people charged with promoting such tolerance and equity. It may be unfair, of course, to blame the kids. There were adults with them. There were more adults in that stadium to support those kids as there shall be children and young people at the England/Italy game. How is that equitable? How is that a punishment at all?

If the Hungarians wish to be known for intolerance, then they have ostensibly got a democracy and can continue to vote for it. They can continue to have a regime under the auspices of democratic elections which maintains that status quo.

The international sporting community, on the other hand, can make a stand.

The scenes in Hungary overshadowed the result.

Unlike what will happen In Wolves’ ground I can only see the negative piled upon the negative from Hungary. The next phase of the negative is the silence that accompanies any response.

Should FIFA or UEFA act? Yes.

Will they? Unlikely.

Should individual associations strike out on their own within UEFA/FIFA? Absolutely.

Will they? Unlikely.

If the governing body is unwilling to govern, then those who believe that Giving Racism the Red Card is more than the wearing of t-shirts and a weekend flurry of activity once a year ought to show their mettle. Why? Because only by inconveniencing ourselves can the minorities who suffer the indignities of prejudice feel they are supported. It is easy for us to say what we feel, but unless we demonstrate it, all we have are fancy words and trite phrases that are meaningless when the obnoxious raise up and challenge us as they did in Hungary.

So, maybe England should refuse to play them in England. They won’t. But I wish they would.”


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