UEFA President Michel Platini has sent out a strong message against racism, in the wake of discussions by UEFA's Executive Committee on possible action to be taken in the event of racist conduct at UEFA matches.
Zero tolerance approach
At a meeting in Bucharest, the committee agreed with Mr Platini that a zero tolerance approach should be taken in terms of Law 5 of the Laws of the Game – allowing match officials to stop, suspend, or abandon the match because of outside interference of any kind.
Insult to human dignity
Mr Platini said he shared his indignation with the Executive Committee at the various racist incidents that had tarnished the football season in some European countries.
These incidents are an insult to human dignity that UEFA can neither tolerate nor pass over in silence. To remain silent on such an issue would amount to complicity, he said.
The Executive Committee has agreed to the disciplinary rules being clarified on the basis of the Laws of the Game so as to allow the referee to stop, suspend, or ultimately abandon a match if the behaviour of the crowd means that the dignity of the players can no longer be protected. Concrete measures are to be submitted to the Executive Committee for consideration at its meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, on 1/2 July.
UEFA General Secretary David Taylor told Reuters:
We have been working on this idea for a long time now and the time has come to allow the referee to stop, suspend, or abandon the match because of outside interference of any kind. That could be 10 minutes, it could be longer, depending on the circumstances.
Decision welcomed by anti-racist campaigners
A number of racist incidents, mainly involving racist chants from home or away fans, have blighted matches in recent years and UEFA have often been criticised for imposing relatively minor fines and sanctions on the involved clubs.
Piara Powar, Director of UK campaigners and FARE-member Kick It Out commented:
We welcome the introduction of sporting sanctions as a much more effective means of dealing with the problem. Fines, although useful in some circumstances, are no deterrent for the wealthier clubs who are able to pay them without any difficulty. Stopping and abandoning games, as soon as any form of discriminatory behavior occurs, sends a strong message to supporters and clubs that this behaviour will not be tolerated.