It was another sad night for European football, one that detracted from Liverpool's exemplary performance in Sofia, but sadder still was the admission by Djibril Cissé that Uefa may be powerless to eradicate the racist abuse he fell victim to on Wednesday night.
The disciplinary arm of the Continent's governing body will meet next Thursday to decide what punishment, if any, is owed to the Bulgarian champions CSKA following the racist chanting that marred Liverpool's impressive victory at the Vasil Levski Stadium.
Liverpool have encountered the problem too often on recent European travels to be stunned by the latest outbreak and are too wise to the ways of Uefa to expected a hardline response and overdue leadership.
Their last appearance in the Bulgarian capital, against Levski last year, produced identical difficulties but ultimately no sanction, while previous racist ignoramuses in Valencia, Bucharest and Boavista brought only minimal fines upon their clubs.
The Uefa delegate in Sofia, Trygue Borno, has reported the incidents and his employers are promising a swift response. A spokesman for Uefa confirmed last night: "We are aware that there were some incidents of a racist nature. Once we have the report we will be able to decide whether to open a disciplinary case." Outside of the educational system, however, Cissé doubts whether Uefa, whether through warnings, fines or ground closures, can ever truly hope to eradicate the scourge of the modern game.
The Liverpool striker said: "You can say Uefa should take stronger action when it happens but I'm not sure what they can do. You really can't stop stupid people doing this. It's not CSKA Sofia's fault and it's not their players' fault. I don't know what can be done. When it happens I am sorry for football because no one wants it. This is the first time anything like this has happened to me.
"I think the only solution is to educate people so they understand they should not be doing this. I am strong enough to deal with it, I won't let it affect me. I'm just sad that we have to talk about these issues rather than football."Reuse content