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Anti-doping charges to Phil Jones and Daley Blind are a disgrace from UEFA and the media

Manchester United faced the consequences of a controversial anti-doping violation after allegedly breaking rules established for the Europa League final. That’s what Sky Sports, one of the most lauded sources for football news in the United Kingdom, reported on Monday afternoon.

This sparked social media outrage, the United faithful baffled with their heroes, and the entire football community motioning for United to be banned from UEFA competition. That lasted about five minutes, before everyone discovered what actually happened.

Phil Jones faced a two-game suspension, ruling him out of the Super Cup against Real Madrid, for abusing the official who commissioned the doping test. Daley Blind, on the other hand, was charged £4,450 for reluctance to take the doping test as he wanted to celebrate the win.

Sky Sports took doping, a significant issue for all athletes, and decided to antagonise Manchester United, triumphant in the Europa League final, to earn a few ignorant retweets and clicks. They weren’t the only ones, either, with Bleacher Report, FOX Sports, and likely many others using the phrase “Manchester United” and “anti-doping” in a headline to generate hits when the only relation between the two were the players involved in the incident. The players who, as confirmed, did not use Performance Enhancing Drugs (hereby referred to as PEDs).

While the use of misleading headlines to convince clickers that United are completing signings is irritating at best, it isn’t as morally wrong as taking one of the most serious incidents in modern sports and using it to antagonise the heroes of millions of people worldwide. Period.

Moving on to the incident itself, Jones and Blind follow instructions of officials, within reason. However, upon reviewing the incidents and their retrospective consequences under the proverbial microscope, even to those who hate Manchester United would find these charges mind-numbingly irritating.

Jones, who is expected to appeal this incident, is motioning under the grounds that he was missing out on a team dressing room photo, in which the United players held a banner that read “Manchester – A City United” after the horrific terrorist attacks at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, days before the match. Jones is the only player who isn’t in the team photo, included in the tweet below.

While “abusing” the official wasn’t the correct solution, Jones was deprived of fighting against terrorism for a drug test that was pointless on two fronts; firstly, he didn’t do any PEDs, and secondly, he didn’t even feature in the match.

Imagine how Jones must perceive this situation- he didn’t feature in the Europa League Final, missed a photo that will go down in United history after winning the tournament, and now, will miss the Super Cup and the first match of the Champions League.

Meanwhile, Blind arguably escaped unscathed after losing a mere fraction of his weekly wage, but nonetheless, this will go down on his record, and he had to pay £4,450 for reluctance to take the test (that he eventually took), an offence more meaningless than when Jose Mourinho was charged £16,000 for kicking a plastic water bottle.

Finally, though, it has been over two months since this incident. Why should it take two months to determine consequences for abuse of doping violations, which again, are among the most serious issues in modern sports? Why has it come just days after Eric Bailly’s one-match suspension, which occurred almost three months ago, was tripled?

There are a few takeaways from this incident. Firstly, the media in the United Kingdom has become so intrinsically absorbed with the monetary aspect of journalism that it has lost its purpose; reporting the news accurately and informatively.

Secondly, Jones and Blind are facing anti-doping allegations, despite the fact that neither used PEDs, the former didn’t play the game and was standing against terrorism, and the latter was charged for what could only be cited as “reluctance”.

Perhaps most importantly, though, it takes over two months to decide whether Antonio Valencia pushing a player should result in a one-game or three-game ban for Eric Bailly, and the same amount of time to determine that Jones was abusive and Blind was reluctant.

Either UEFA needs to be more decisive, or something more suspicious is occurring a week before the Super Cup. Or the most likely explanation; Europe’s governing football organization is operated poorly.

Written by Aaron Moniz

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