After announcing it would quite rightly investigate a series of racist incidents towards black supporters during Dynamo Kiev’s Champions League encounter with Chelsea this week, European football’s governing body has also declared Manchester City fans are to be investigated for breaching “order and security” themselves, right before their team’s 2-1 win against Sevilla yesterday.
What could possibly require pooling resources into an official investigation at a time when its president Michael Platini is currently banned from football on corruption charges chants: racist chants? Rioting? Plastic seats being hurled onto the pitch? Flares fired into the away end?
No: booing the Champions League anthem.
The call was made by the match official who wrote of the grievance in his report. UEFA’s disciplinary unit will mount an investigation under article 16.2 of its disciplinary rules, that states clubs are “liable for… inappropriate behaviour of supporters and may be subject to punishment for the disruption of national or competition anthems”.
What they may have failed to realise is that Manchester City have reason to jeer. Last season, fans were told that they could not travel to a behind-closed-doors game at CSKA Moscow imposed after racist chanting in a previous game, only to find hundreds of home supporters defied the ban and attended anyway - while they haven't exactly been over the moon about constant UEFA threats to ban Manchester City under financial fair play regulations.
Besides, it’s not really an ‘anthem’ is it? Written to a variation on Handel’s 1727 composition Zadok The Priest (see, you do know classical music) by Tony Britten in 1992, it has two short verses and a chorus, but how well do you know the lyrics aside from that bit where everyone shouts ‘THE CHAMPIONS!’?
Truthfully, and this is what we suspect UEFA already knows, it’s more a theme tune, and a cripplingly corporate one at that.
Give it a few years and they’ll update the lyrics to substitute ‘Champions’ for ‘Gazprom'.
We shudder at the thought.