x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Uefa: Racist players face 10-match ban

Players and supporters face bans and stadium closures if they are found guilty.

AC Milan's Kevin-Prince Boateng warms up, wearing a jersey protesting against racism earlier this season.
AC Milan's Kevin-Prince Boateng warms up, wearing a jersey protesting against racism earlier this season.

Players found guilty of racist offences face a minimum ban of 10 matches, a sanction the European governing body Uefa hopes will be adopted by all their 53 members, their general secretary Gianni Infantino said.

Clubs will also face partial closure of stadiums for a first incident of racist abuse by fans and a full closure for a second offence, plus far tougher financial penalties.

The new sanctions, discussed by Uefa's executive committee but not revealed until yesterday, would initially affect all matches in European competition, with Uefa hoping all their members will adopt the same punishments in domestic competitions.

Infantino, the opening speaker at the Soccerex European Forum in Manchester, said: "We have to have sanctions and they must have a deterrent effect and what we are proposing is if a player or official is convicted of racism they should receive a 10-match suspension, at least.

"If supporters at a club are found guilty of racist abuse, the first sanction will be a partial closure of the part of the stadium from which the racist abuse took place."

He said a second offence would mean the full closure of the stadium and a minimum fine of €50,000 (Dh240,100).

The Swiss also said referees would be encouraged to abandon matches if racist abuse was directed at players by fans.

A number of high-profile racist issues have had a huge impact in the recent past, with Chelsea's John Terry banned for four matches and Liverpool's Luis Suarez for eight games for offences in England.

Kevin-Prince Boateng of AC Milan led his team off the field after racist abuse during a friendly match in Italy against the lower-league club Pro Patria in January. Infantino said they backed Boateng's stance but hoped it would not happen again. He said the new rules will be ratified at the next Uefa executive committee meeting, on May 22-23, and are planned to come into effect at the start of next season.

As it stands, Uefa's statutes allow a minimum sanction of a five-match ban on a player who is guilty of racist abuse although Infantino agreed this had never been implemented.

Infantino said Uefa were backing referees to abandon matches if fans continued with racist abuse after a first public warning.

"If there is racist abuse, the referee is empowered to take the players off the pitch and a public announcement will be made to tell the fans to stop the abuse.

"The players will then return to the field, but if it continues the referee has the authority to abandon the match. If that happens, sanctions regarding the result and points deductions would be considered," he said.

Uefa announced yesterday Dynamo Kiev must play their next European competition home game behind closed doors due to the racist behaviour of their fans at a Champions League match in November.

The Ukraine club has appealed against the sanction, which relates to the racist conduct of their fans at a Group A match with Paris St-Germain on November 21.

* Reuters