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Apr 10, 2013

UEFA to get tough on racism

Players or officials found guilty of racial abuse could face a minimum ten-match ban under proposals by UEFA.

• Dynamo punished by UEFA

Speaking at the SoccerEx conference in Manchester on Wednesday, UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino outlined the body's plans to tackle racism in football.

Infantino explained that if there is racism in the stands at matches then clubs could face a partial closure of their stadium, as well as a fine.

And if there is further racism in the stands, Infantino said there will be a "full closure of the stadium and a minimum fine of €50,000".

The Swiss also said referees would be encouraged to abandon matches if there was racist abuse from fans towards players at games.

"The message will be that we don't accept and we don't tolerate racism and we don't treat racist offences like any other disciplinary case," Infantino told Sky Sports News.

"Racism offences, sadly, still exist and have to be treated with full implementation of the zero tolerance policy and everyone has to be aware of it. Everybody has to be aware of the consequences of it.

"Again, when it comes to racism it's not only about sanctioning, it will also be also about creating the awareness, speaking about it, kicking it out, educating players, educating fans, educating officials. Everyone has to be aware that there is no place for racism in football."

Infantino insisted that UEFA has taken a lead in combatting racism in football, despite many criticising the governing body for handing out small punishments compared to those laid down for other, less serious offences.

"I think that if there is an association who cannot be criticised for not having done enough on racism it's probably UEFA," he added.

"In the last 10 years we've had over 120 cases. Our bodies then apply the sanctions in accordance with the regulations that they have. Per year we have over 1,000 disciplinary cases in general and racism has been treated very, very seriously from the outset.

"Just recently a club of Rome, Lazio, was punished with a two-match suspension [for racist behaviour among their fans]. In the Europa League quarter-finals, two very important matches will be played without spectators. It's not really what I call taking it easy and I think our disciplinary board deserve to be respected for the decisions that they take."

The proposed sanctions would affect all matches in European competition and would reportedly come into effect for the start of next season.

The debate on racism intensified this season when AC Milan's Kevin-Prince Boateng was racially abused by supporters during a friendly against Pro Patria in January and walked off the pitch.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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