It was interesting to see EFA President Aleksander Ceferin on Thursday when he said “football is not for sale” in response to new proposals for a Super League. The remarks came after a European Court of Justice ruling that UEFA and FIFA contravened EU law by stopping the formation of the European Super League.
Football may not be for sale yet! but do UEFA only care about money and big sponsorship? They might pay lip service to football fans and supporters groups but do they really care?.
Below is just another example of why I believe UEFA don’t care about us the football fans.
Our latest adventure in Rome was another sad tale of defeat and travelling football fans being treated poorly once again. Shame on UEFA, Lazio and Celtic for letting the game kick off while so many Celtic fans were outside the ground with some fans only getting in for the last half an hour of the game.
I have been to the stadium before on that great night when Celtic beat Lazio back when Neil Lennon was in charge, and I strolled up to the ground close to kick off and breezed through security and was able to enjoy the experience of watching a game of football. So why was it changed for this game?
Celtic’s European campaign is over for another year, and I will be 53 next year for the next campaign but do I want to continue to be treated so badly and on so many occasions at away football games in Europe? How come I can attend other sporting events and music events and I am treated with respect?
UEFA preach about respect yet have no respect for the very fans that are the lifeblood of the sport who travel home and way and go to great expense to support their teams.
I love travelling to European cities to see Celtic, experience the culture, taste the local food and drinks on offer and see the sights. You also meet up with so many familiar faces and make new friends. The experience is only ruined by the match going experience in some countries.
In recent years the way we were treated in Madrid (v Real) on entering the stadium and Warsaw (v Shaktar) on trying to exit the stadium are fresh in the mind, but Rome topped them all for disorganisation. I knew we would be held in the ground after the game. The Rome Police informed Celtic, and the club informed the fans. This happens in many countries we visit. You either leave early or you must wait to get out.
The problem was getting in. We received our tickets by PDF which are a disaster as anyone can print off an extra one for someone without a ticket or take a screen shot once, they are in and send it to as many fans without tickets outside.
I waited 20 minutes after the game had kicked off in the queue before deciding to go back to a café close to the ground and watch the rest of the game before I left, I spoke to the two Celtic stewards who were positioned between the first ticket and passport check and the second one.
They had no information on how long it was going to take to get in. I also approached a plain clothes Police man who brought me to a head Lazio steward who told me all fans would get in eventually, but it was taking longer than expected to check passports, scan tickets, and do security checks. When I asked why it was taking so long, he told me barcodes were not scanning.
So still in the dark I opted to watch at least some of the game on the TV. The last time I was locked out of a game was in Blackburn in 2002 when Celtic fans with forged tickets were blamed. It never seems to be anyone else’s fault, but the football fans and UEFA and the clubs just wash their hands of the problem.
Andrew Milne is Editor of More than 90 Minutes and host of the Celtic Soul Podcast