UEFA has urged Europe's top assistant referees to look out for and report racist incidents. They were told that they could play a crucial role in the Europe-wide campaign to eliminate racism, intolerance and discrimination from the game.
It is not only the top assistant referees who are performing in front of large crowds who can play their part. Assistants for games at grassroots level, who witness racist incidents or gestures on and off the pitch, should report the matter. By doing this, you will be playing your own small part in ridding football of a deeply worrying phenomenon.
“Racism is a social problem that spills over into football. You are in an ideal position to help UEFA in the process of dealing with this problem. You are close to the fans on many occasions, and you'll sometimes hear remarks that are being made behind you,” FARE representative Piara Powar told the assistant referees.
“You'll also see incidents such as banners being unfolded or even bananas being thrown on the pitch, which continues to be the case. You may hear monkey chants by spectators. You can identify problems that perhaps a referee or match observer won't be able to see or understand.”
Such problems are obviously not confined to the grandstands. Assistants are being urged to react if they hear a player being subject to racial abuse close to them, given that this serious form of abuse can be punished both by the referee – and subsequently by football's disciplinary authorities.
Lack of reporting
“We would ask you to report what you hear or see to the referee, either immediately or after the game, so that the details can be passed on to UEFA's disciplinary bodies via the referee's report. One of the problems that we have been facing in fighting racism is a lack of reporting. For example, this has led to complaints from players who feel they have been subject to abuse, but the matter goes no further. A disciplinary process exists if an incident is reported,“ Powar explained.
Responsibility to act
“Racism is a moral and social issue. It tarnishes the UEFA competitions and football in general. It is contrary to football's spirit. We all have a responsibility to act and challenge the problem.”
UEFA is working in close conjunction with the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network to combat the evil of racism in football. European football's governing body has reinforced its list of sanctions that can be imposed for those found to besmirch football in this fashion.