By City fan Archie Jackson
2012 is where the story between the blue side of Manchester and UEFA begins. From as young as I can remember, a European night meant booing the anthem as the players lined up and now it almost feels like breaking a tradition not doing it. Yet, UEFA consistently give City fans a reason to boo, and I can’t see it coming to an end.
UEFA have always turned a blind eye to racism within their competitions. It’s usually a slap on the wrist and an insignificant fine and teams can continue like nothing has happened. Former City striker, Mario Balotelli, was racially abused by fans of Portuguese side Porto during the 2011-12 Europa League. After they only received a €20,000 fine, the blues fans took it upon themselves to show UEFA what they thought. But from there, it only got worse.
Merely a month later, City were fined £30,000 for being 30 seconds late for the second half against Sporting Lisbon. UEFA were happier to hand out a larger fine for this than for the racial abuse of a player. Comical.
The relationship between UEFA and City fans had already turned sour and the stadium wide ‘boo’ was already present when the Champions League anthem ‘Zodak the Priest’ rang out before kick-off, but it was the 2013-14 season that was the biggest catalyst for the blues hatred of UEFA. It was one of the first years playing in the Champions League for City and fans couldn’t wait to travel across Europe watching a club they’d once seen struggling in the second and third tier of English football. CSKA Moscow had closed their stadium due to ongoing racial abuse by supporters, but it was a bigger shock to City fans who found out this ban also applied to them… after they’d bought the tickets, and booked travel and accommodation. When the match started, fans who now had to watch it in bars across the city, saw that the stadium had many CSKA Moscow fans who had been freely let into the stadium. Quite hilariously, CSKA had the stadium ban reduced. Booooooooo.
The final nail in the coffin was UEFA accusing Manchester City of breaching the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules. City supporters know UEFA aren’t their biggest fans; UEFA have always favoured clubs with more marketable history in the competition, so City’s fresh challenge to such clubs arguably forced UEFA to try and shut down the Blues’ hope of European success. It was taken to the ‘Court of Arbitration for Sport’ (CAS) where UEFA were City were found not guilty. This has only ever added to the symphony of Manc boo’s that echo round the Etihad minutes before kick-off on European nights… and long may it continue.
UEFA don’t like City, and City don’t like UEFA, so whether it be in East Manchester, Madrid or Moscow, City fans will continue to boo one of football’s most corrupt corporations.
Picture Credit: Braden Hopkins / Unsplash