13 April 2005

Champions League: Tuesday results

Wow. What a night.

The Bayern-Chelsea match lived up to expectations, though the 3-2 final score, 5-6 on aggregate, was perhaps a bit misleading. All signs pointed to a comfortable Chelsea aggregate victory, first when they scored in the 30th minute, giving themselves a 5-2 aggregate lead, then again when they scored in the 80th minute to make it a 6-3 aggregate lead. Bayern did their best to make up the difference, but their two late goals (one at the death) were never quite enough to pose a real threat. So Chelsea go through, and await the full results to see who they'll face in the semi-finals.

However, the Milan darby was a different sort of match. AC Milan were already in the driver's seat, and Shevchenko's 30th minute goal was probably the nail in the coffin. Yet the match was abandoned in the 72nd minute. When an Inter goal was disallowed for a foul, their thuggish fans (technically "visiting" fans, although San Siro is their home stadium too) began a rain of flares and water bottles onto the pitch. One of the flares struck Dida, the AC goalkeeper, on the shoulder. After one attempt at a restart, the match was abandoned.

It's not yet been determined what happens next. In the immediate future, either AC Milan will be declared the winner, or the last minutes will be replayed. But that's less important than the punishment that Inter will face. A hefty fine is almost a given, as well as being forced to play one or more games behind closed doors, in an empty stadium. The big question is whether Inter will be banned from the Champions League next year.

There are clearly two things going on here, and actions by the club and by UEFA need to address both. The club itself has to be punished. Clearly their fans are out of control, and the team ultimately has to bear the burden for that. UEFA will handle that side of things. But the bigger question is how Italy will deal with the thuggish elements of their fandom. This was clearly a premeditated event; the fans unfurled a banner that said "We Don't Care About The Match Anyway" even before the missles started to fly. The problems are systemic rather than isolated, and it seems they reach beyond the fans into the ways the clubs are organized. Will this change? Unlikely. Probably, all we'll see is a lot of official attention, some superficial changes, and a reoccurence of the problems down the road.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?