Spain coach, Luis Aragones, has been fined 3000 euros by the Spanish Football Federation following his racist remarks about Arsenal’s Thierry Henry. The pitiful punishment was the result of a long drawn-out investigation into the remarks he made to Reyes about his Arsenal team-mate late last year.
Aragones caused uproar, when in October 2004, he was caught on film referring to Henry as “That black sh*t” during a training session. Aragones, apologised at the time but refused to accept that his words were indeed racist, stating,
“I am obliged to motivate my players to get the best results. As part of that job, I use colloquial language, with which we can all understand each other within the framework of the football world.” The 66-year-old later dig himself deeper by attempting to justify his remark by referring to Reyes as “A gypsy.”
The football community has been left stunned by the lightness of the punishment. Arsene Wenger, who was recently fined £15000 (about 22000 euros) by the English FA for calling Ruud van Nistelrooy a cheat, believes Aragones has got off lightly. Wenger said,
“You compare his fine and my fine and you can make the difference. When you consider it was for racist abuse, you can see that you get away better in Spain with this kind of abuse than you should.”
Anti-racist campaigners are also disappointed, by this missed opportunity by the Spanish FA to make a clear stance against racism. FARE partner Kick It Out believe there would have been significant merit in taking a hard-line approach.
Kick It Out's Leon Mann issued a statement saying,
“We expected very little from the Spanish Football Association and are not surprised by this pitiful fine. Questions have to be asked as to why the fine is only 3,000 Euros when it took such a lengthy process to get to this decision, and why someone found guilty of a racist comment is still in a job. Imagine what would have happened if Sven-Goran Eriksson had come out and said the same.
The situation in Spanish football at the moment is desperate. The only other positive is that games are now being stopped and some action is being taken as a first step, but the campaigners on the ground are still being ignored.”