UEFA gets tough on racism22 September 2005

UEFA has explained its reasoning behind its recent decision to increase the punishment dealt to Steaua Bucharest, sending out a clear message to clubs who fail to deal with the racist behaviour of their fans.

In a report of the disciplinary hearing, UEFA states,
“The panel was particularly concerned about the Steaua’s attempts to play down the racist incidents. The club is obviously not aware of the problem of racism amongst its supporters and the difficulties the club is in. The problem of racism is far deeper routed than Steaua Bucharest believes. Simple messages of standing against racism are not enough. On the contrary, a proactive approach with educational programmes and specific fan communication is requested.”

The Romanian club were originally fined by UEFA following the racist behaviour of their fans towards Shelbourne’s Joseph Ndo. However, after considering the severity of the racist abuse and Steaua Bucharest’s inaction, UEFA increased the punishment to also include a stadium ban. Steaua Bucharest appealed against UEFA’s decision, playing down the racist abuse from their supporters as jibes, but UEFA stood firm.

Reaction in Romania
As previously reported by FARE, the severe punishment has created an awareness of the problem of racism in Romanian football. It has provoked an open debate in the media, with most of the Romanian mass media devoting articles to the previously ignored problem of racism. FARE partners working in the region have been flooded with calls of interest and support.

Combatting racism
UEFA has worked very closely with FARE for several years now, to rid the game of racism. FARE have received multiple charity cheques from UEFA, money UEFA raises from the fines it issues. Recently, UEFA worked with FARE to highlight the problem of racism and practical ways to deal with it at a conference open to all European FAs. UEFA has also issued guidelines and a 10-point-plan of action to clubs as well as making funds available for national FAs to develop anti-racist initiatives.