UEFA have charged Wales for letting their players bring their kids onto the pitch to celebrate after wins during the Euro 2016 tournament. Although they were only initially thought to be just mere complaints, it has been revealed that the Football Association of Wales were actually charged.
The post-match celebrations after Wales beat the likes of Northern Ireland and Belgium in the Round of 16 and quarter-finals endeared the players to the Welsh fans and neutrals alike.
Pictures of Gareth Bale chasing his daughter Alba Violet across the pitch were beamed across the world and brought a smile to the faces of everyone watching – a perfect way to cap off memorable wins as fathers celebrated with their families. Other players such as Neil Taylor and Hal Robson-Kanu also had their kids on the pitch following their 3-1 quarter-final win over Belgium.
According to Wales Online, there was a hearing three days ago after their semi-final exit. Although there were no penalties imposed, FAW were given a warning stating that it would not be acceptable in the future.
“We were disappointed,” FAW Trust chief executive Neil Ward said at Wales’ homecoming parade.
“I think we understand security issues around all games. In fact, the FAW has been charged by UEFA on that but we put in a lot of mitigation around this because obviously it is about that future generation and that inclusivity.
“I think it was hugely popular among the people in the ground to see those young kids on the pitch,” he continued. “Some of those goals that were scored in front of the fans [by the player’s kids] got as big a cheer as some of the other goals scored in the game. It was just magical to see and it again shows you the openness and togetherness of this squad.
"I think the players have blown away those myths of the modern professional player. They have shown huge courage, huge passion, leadership, friendliness and embraced the family ethic as well.”
Why UEFA charged Wales
UEFA tournament director Martin Kallen revealed exactly why the players were charged. He had warned players of the same earlier too.
“It is a European Championship, not a family party,” he explained. “A stadium is not the most safe place for small kids.”
“It is nice pictures. We are not 100% against it but we are cautious.
“It is getting more and more a habit that entire family members would like to go on the pitch or into the technical area. The principle is how far you go with having other people on the pitch than the players. People with accreditation cards should be on the pitch and not more.
“Small kids of five, six years – if something happened, what do you do afterwards? What do you say?”
From a technical standpoint, Kallen is right to nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand. The last thing they want to see is players invite entire families to make their way to the pitch.
Although it is harmless to see kids having fun, especially under the watchful eye of their fathers, UEFA are trying to draw the line for the sake of security of the players and their families. And after seeing the number of fans who invaded the pitch at the Euros, their security is not exactly airtight.
But players know the risks involved and should be allowed to celebrate their happiest moments with their loved ones.