Campaigners in Romania are urging fans to refrain from racist abuse ahead of the UEFA Cup quarter final matches between Rapid Bucharest and Steaua Bucharest on 30 March and 6 April 2006. The Romanian National Council for Combating Discrimination, together with the Romanian Football Federation and The National Youth Authority have jointly launched their “Put racism off-side” campaign.
Information leaflets will be distributed to fans, whilst all players and the referees will enter the pitch wearing the campaign T-shirts and carrying a banner of the same slogan. Tannoy announcements will also stress the importance of refraining from racist abuse and the consequences of such deplorable actions.
The campaigners hope to raise awareness and inform the spectators of the possible disciplinary sanctions either club could receive from UEFA as a result of racist crowd trouble. This is even more important, now that the world’s governing football authority, FIFA, has issued strict new minimum punishments that all its members, such as UEFA, must immediately adopt. UEFA has already had a good track record of punishing clubs with severe fines or having to play behind closed doors. The new FIFA rules now include minimum fine amounts and increasing points deductions and expulsions for repeat offenders.