Spanish government ups the ante10 March 2006

Spanish sports minister, Jaime Lissavetsky, has announced that the country will introduce tougher legislation to deal with racism in football stadiums.

The minister said, “The government is preparing changes to the law so that it can act with greater rigour, will be able to hand out heavier sanctions and make individual actions punishable. We have experienced outbreaks of racism that possibly do not reflect Spanish society, but they have become a reality in certain mass events and we have to eradicate the problem.”

The situation in Spanish football has hit the headlines in recent years, with several high-profile black players facing abuse. Campaigners have urged the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to take a tougher stance, to a problem that many feel they are not taking seriously enough. As recently as last month, RFEF president Angel Maria Villar Llona, speaking at UEFA’s Unite Against Racism Conference dismissed racism by stating, “Let’s not make a mountain out of a molehill. Let’s not blow it out of proportion.”