FIFA fines in WC cases can leave priority questioned

Published: July 09, 2018 21:49:28


FIFA has fined Sweden's Football federation 70,000 Swiss francs ($70,750) for players wearing unapproved branded clothing — AP

The World Cup rulings in FIFA's disciplinary court have not always been easy to comprehend, reports AP.

Sweden was slugged 70,000 Swiss francs ($70,700) for players wearing non-approved socks, and Croatia was hit with the same monetary penalty when a player took a non-sponsor's drink onto the field.

Yet a Russia fan's neo-Nazi banner and a Serbian World War Two-era nationalist symbol waved inside venue drew only 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,100) fines, paid by their national soccer bodies which are responsible for fan misconduct at games.

Commercial rules can seem to be enforced more strictly than bad behavior, and Argentine great Diego Maradona appears to enjoy a unique code of conduct of his own.

Maradona's hysterics

Maradona, a paid FIFA ambassador, uses Facebook to explain away allegations of racism and offensive behavior from VIP seats, charges that have previously led soccer's world governing body to ban players.

Maradona sparks trolling for his odd reaction — Internet

At times, the priorities and consistency in FIFA decisions can look a curious form of World Cup justice. Even before the World Cup, FIFA was criticized by the anti-discrimination group Kick It Out for prioritizing commercial gain over eliminating racism from the sport.

But sports law expert James Kitching says FIFA's approach makes some sense, because the World Cup depends on sponsors and broadcasters paying for exclusive deals.

"A financial sanction is always heavy in a commercial case because exclusivity is something Coca-Cola or Adidas pays millions of dollars for," Kitching, the former head of sports legal affairs at the Asian Football Confederation, told The Associated Press.

The $70,000 fines imposed on Sweden and Croatia followed repeated warnings from FIFA.

FIFA reacted strongest to ambush marketing at the 2010 World Cup against a European brewery challenging Budweiser's exclusive rights.

A group of women sat together in matching orange mini-dresses during a game at Johannesburg in the colors of the brewery. The case was dropped only with the brewery promising not to try a similar stunt at a future World Cup.

Commercial threats

Still, such cases can make FIFA seem more anxious about commercial threats to its $6 billion World Cup revenue than offensive fan behavior.

FIFA dismissed a suggestion that 70,000 Swiss francs ($70,700) was a baseline figure for breaking commercial rules.

It has so far added up to 482,000 Swiss francs ($487,000) in fines imposed by FIFA's disciplinary committee in Russia. A further six-figure sum must be paid by federations and players in mandatory fines for on-field conduct. Teams due to pay 15,000 Swiss francs ($15,150) for getting five yellow cards in a game, rising by 3,000 Swiss francs ($3,300) for subsequent bookings, include Argentina, Colombia and Morocco.

Argentina is set to pay the highest World Cup fine for a second straight tournament, even though it exited in the round of 16.

A 105,000 Swiss francs ($106,000) penalty was for a range of offenses by fans at a demoralizing 3-0 loss against Croatia, topped by several men being filmed punching and kicking a Croatia-shirted fan in a walkway from the grandstand.

Four years ago, Argentina officials were to blame for breaking media rules by not bringing a player to mandatory pre-match press conferences at the stadium. For defying warnings and repeating the offense at four straight games, FIFA fined Argentina 300,000 Swiss francs ($303,000).

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