UEFA to investigate Macedonia racism08 September 2003

UEFA has started disciplinary proceedings against the Macedonian FA following a complaint from the English FA, after their Euro 2004 qualifier in Skopje on Saturday 6 September 2003.

England’s national anthem was jeered and a St. George flag was burnt before the kick off. Throughout the game, England’s Emile Heskey, Sol Campbell and Ashly Cole had monkey chants repeatedly aimed at them.

“This is not the first time our players have suffered such abuse in this qualifying campaign and I can confirm that, on the morning of the match, as part of our routine operational meeting, The FA had taken time to explain to our opponents, the match officials, the Police and the UEFA delegate how seriously we viewed any form of racist behaviour,” said Paul Barber, FA director of marketing.

“The racial abuse started in the early minutes of the game. It continued through periods of the first half and then went on into the second half. I can confirm that all of the incidents were reported to the UEFA match delegate. We must now leave UEFA to consider its delegate’s report. ”

“Whilst we deplore any form of racist behaviour, it’s important to remember that we have had our own difficulties in this area earlier in the year. Following the match against Turkey in April, we were heavily fined for the racist and violent conduct of a section of our own fans and UEFA gave us the most severe warning as to our fans’ future conduct. ”

“In line with our ongoing anti-racism campaign, we have worked hard in recent months to educate our supporters. For the most part, England fans have responded magnificently and we have seen a marked improvement in behaviour at our recent home matches. Our fans deserve credit for such a positive reaction. We would also like to thank all sections of the media for their support in publicising our ongoing campaign – your help is making a difference to this campaign. Our country has invested heavily in anti-racism campaigns and, even before the concerted effort of recent months, we have made good progress in many areas. UEFA has also worked hard to rid the game of racist behaviour and similarly has made good progress in many countries across Europe where they have invested significant amounts in education programmes. ”

“However, it’s clear that despite all of our combined efforts football still has much work to do. We must continue to do all we can in the areas of education, communication and zero-tolerance policing. The FA will continue to do all it can to support UEFA and FIFA in this regard. “