Asier del Horno's early goal gave Spain victory in
an ill-tempered friendly. He headed home after 10 minutes in a
game marred by angry scenes on the pitch and racist chants aimed at
Ashley Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips. Paul Robinson saved a penalty
from Spain's Raul following a foul on the same player after 24
minutes. And England's Wayne Rooney was hauled off after 41
minutes to spare him a red card after being cautioned and clashing with
several Spain players.
Aside from all the turmoil, England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson will have learned little from an abject and
disjointed performance which contained few chances. England
had captain David Beckham back in their ranks - but they were a goal
down inside 10 minutes.
The old England failing at set-pieces surfaced
again, when a corner caused confusion and Del Horno headed home from
eight yards. Spain were outclassing England, but they were
handed a very fortunate opportunity to double their lead after 24
minutes. Goalkeeper Robinson produced a perfectly-timed
challenge to rob Raul, and was stunned to see referee George
Kasnaferis point to the spot.
England were furious, but justice was done as
Robinson dived to his left to save Raul's penalty. The rest of
the half degenerated into a spiteful affair on and off the pitch.
England defender Cole was the target for clear racist chanting,
while Rooney stoked up the temperatures with an astonishing display
of petulance and aggression. The Manchester United teenager
was fortunate to escape without a yellow card for a wild challenge
on Joaquin. And seven minutes before the interval he was
cautioned for a dangerous push on Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas
which risked seriously injuring the Real Madrid star as he tumbled
off the pitch. One more wild challenge on Carlos Marchena
prompted Eriksson to humiliatingly haul off the youngster for his
own protection and prevent a red card, sending on Alan Smith.
Cole was then cautioned for a tackle on Michel
Salgado, although in his defence it was likely the Arsenal defender
was in a furious mood after being subjected to disgraceful treatment
from the crowd.
England began the second-half more brightly, with
Smith heading narrowly over. But Spain soon resumed control, and
England captain Beckham was substituted holding his ribs on the
hour. Wright-Phillips was his replacement, and he too was
greeted by racist chanting from the Madrid crowd. Miguel Angel
Angulo, making his Spain debut, had the chance to make his mark as a
substitute when he was clean through after 77 minutes, but he blazed
Fifa probes Spanish racist chants
Fifa is to investigate after Spain fans hurled racist abuse at
England's black players in Wednesday's friendly. England's
Shaun Wright-Phillips and Ashley Cole were subjected to monkey
chants in Madrid, prompting a furious reaction from the Football
In a statement, Fifa said: "We are concerned about the latest
surge of racism and harshly condemn this. We will demand
explanations from the Spanish football association."
Fifa president Sepp Blatter said football had the
potential to be a powerful anti-racist force. "There is no
room whatsoever for racism or discrimination in our sport. On the
contrary, football is a tool for building bridges and nurturing
tolerance,. The world is already too full of conflict that has
its roots in racism and discrimination. Football has a positive
Tony Blair joined the criticism of the abuse, with
a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister saying he was "very
disappointed" by what happened. "He believes racism has no
part to play in sport or in any other matter," she said on Thursday.
The FA's head of media, Adrian Bevington, said
earlier on Thursday that his organisation would be sending a letter
of complaint to the Spanish Federation, as well as Fifa and Uefa.
"Football as a whole should stand up and express its disgust at what
has gone on here. Quite frankly, it's a disgrace."
Sports minister Richard Caborn said: "I will write
to my Spanish counterpart to express my outrage. I would like the
Spanish FA to condemn the scenes. I also expect Fifa and Uefa
to fully investigate the issue. There is no place for racism
in football or modern society, and I strongly believe that action
needs to be taken at the highest level."
Spanish sports minister Maria Jesus san Segundo
said the country was committed to promoting equality between people
of different races. "Spain condemns any racist manifestations
that take place in the sports arena, or any other public place.
We will very seriously study what can be done especially regarding
the re-inforcement of teaching in social values in schools."
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said: "It's very
bad to hear when people boo players because of the colour of their
skin. At Lazio four years ago we had some fans who did the same.
When things like this happen, then something must be done."
Piara Powar, spokesman for British football's
anti-racist organisation Kick It Out, said: "Uefa needs to threaten
the Spanish with closure of stadia, with a ban."
The FA had already complained to Uefa after
several England U-21 players were targeted in their game on Tuesday
and it will now be highlighting the incidents during the senior
Captain David Beckham, who plays at the Bernabeu
for Real Madrid, admitted the chanting had surprised him. "I
was surprised but it's something the FA and world football are
trying to cut out and they are working very hard," he said.
Taylor wanted England to walk off
Players union chief Gordon Taylor says England should have
walked off in the game with Spain after racist abuse from home fans
towards their black players. The Football Association is
to complain over the incidents but Taylor says it should have acted
at the time. The chief executive of the Professional Footballers'
Association told the BBC: "My members were being humiliated."
But Uefa said England's players were right not to walk off the pitch
in protest at the crowd's behaviour. Taylor said he was
appalled that monkey chants were directed at Ashley Cole and Shaun
Wright-Phillips, while several England U-21 players were targeted in
their game on Tuesday.
"The message should have come from the FA
directors to say we will take responsibility and take them off.
We have to say 'enough is enough' and set an example. It's about
human dignity. We should have set an example in that the game
is more important than winning or losing."
But Uefa spokesman William Gaillard, told BBC
Radio Five Live that leaving the pitch would have set a precedent.
"We would not condone such behaviour for the very simple reason it
could lead to all sorts of abuse. I don't think we should
advise this kind of behaviour for merely technical reasons, because
we would have hundreds of cases in which players could walk off the
pitch and say 'I heard someone shouting something'. I don't think
this is the right attitude."
The match fell under Fifa authority rather than
that of Uefa as it was a friendly - but the FA is writing to both
authorities as Uefa is responsible for the leading the campaign
against racism in European football. Gaillard denied that
Uefa's punishments for racist chanting are too lenient.
Referring to a hypothetical situation in European club football
rather than last night's clash, he added: "It would be unfair to
kick out a whole club because of the behaviour of a few fans."
Caborn rebukes FIFA for leniency
Spain escaped with a fine of less than £45,000
over the racist abuse of England's black players because the
incidents did not appear in the referee George Kasnaferis's report.
The world governing body Fifa was concerned that any punishment
ordering Spain to play international matches behind closed doors -
or even a suspended sentence - would have led to a legal challenge
in the Spanish courts. Without Kasnaferis's testimony about
the subject in his match report, Fifa's disciplinary committee
considered, the imposition of a fine was the limit of their powers.
Fears of a legal challenge led to the 100,000 Swiss francs
(£44,750) fine and reprimand that was handed down on Tuesday.
However sources at the Football Association expressed their
dissatisfaction with Fifa's punishment. "Everyone in the stadium -
and everyone watching on television - could hear the abuse," said
one. "It is beyond belief that the referee did not mention it in his
This was a test case for Fifa's disciplinary committee, which has
never had to consider racist incidents.Those involving other
international teams - England were fined £67,125 for racist chanting
in a Euro 2004 qualifier against Turkey - have occurred in matches
organised as part of a Uefa competition and have been handed down by
Uefa. England's trip to Spain was a friendly fixture under the
auspices of Fifa.
The sports minister Richard Caborn believes Fifa has left itself
open to accusations that it has not treated the abuse seriously
enough. "I think it is an opportunity missed for Fifa to have
stamped its authority on the incident and shown that football and
sport in general is not going to tolerate racism," said Caborn. "We
were looking for some symbolic action to say that we cannot allow
this sort of behaviour - and Fifa has not done that."
Caborn also called on Fifa to review its procedures regarding
racist incidents. "I hope now that in the longer term it will give
authority to the fourth official to suspend matches where there is
racist abuse of the type we witnessed in Madrid and, if the chanting
continues, then to abandon games altogether," he said.
There will be no appeal from the governing body of football in
Spain, where the reaction to the punishment has been comparatively
muted. In the media the fine has been described as a "multazo"
rather than a "multa" - a big fine, rather than just a fine - and
reports have echoed Fifa's threat that any recurrence will lead to
games behind closed doors.