Come match day 3, Man City will be lining up against CSKA Moscow in an empty stadium devoid of fans, devoid of the atmosphere that accompanies the Champions league. During their last champion’s league against Roma, the Etihad had over 10,000 seats empty and players and pundits alike e.g. Scholes, Ferdinand blasted the fans, drawing comparison with the feel of a champions league match in old Trafford. This time around, the fans have nothing to worry about. They will be as far away from the action due to not fault of theirs.
The Arena Khimki, which is the home of CSKA Moscow is under full close down during UEFA champion’s league matches. During their match against Bayern, the stadium was open only to few dignitaries and journalists. And against City, same will happen. What makes it an interesting matter however, is the circumstances that led to the ban imposed on CSKA Moscow. It was against City, last season that the first punishment was imposed on CSKA. Toure captaining City, for the first time was subjected to racist chants from the fans. The fans repeated the same against Victoria Pikzen, and this season, when away at Roma on 17th September, for the champion’s league opener, their fans were involved in altercations with the police, were said to chant racist comments and threw flares in the stadium.
Acts such as this will certainly not endear the club to UEFA officials’ heart and they have banned CSKA accordingly. Also their fans have been banned from attending their two away matches left. This will definitely act the expected revenue from tickets sold and hopefully the fans will learn not to exhibit or indulge in such anti social behavior next time.
We should also point out how the ban will affect CSKA apart from the financial aspect. Fans have always been a factor to consider during matches. Their spirit and the noise they make while cheering on their team have always been a psychological boost for their team, and with CSKA not having such a vital support in their own home ground, you can be rest assured that City will dictate proceedings and inflict damages which on a good day might have been cushioned with support from the fans, but with no support availed to the team, it will be difficult, nigh impossible to pick themselves and fight for pride, as all they will receive from their home ground will be silence. And in their return leg against City, they will be facing the impossible task of battling not just the city team, but their fans who will certainly overwhelm whatever confidence the CSKA team might have mustered before filling out.
What the ban has done is create an obstacle that will certainly be difficult for CSKA to surmount, as the projected revenue has been dealt a stinging blow, and their chances of qualifying made more difficult, all because some fans decided to exhibit unruly behavior and engage in degrading their fellow humans, without thinking of the consequence. And despite the ban, it remains to be seen if the fans will be of good behavior the next time they host a European opposition.