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By ESPN Staff

UEFA issue racism warning to Macedonia

UEFA have warned that any racist abuse of England players by Macedonia supporters will not be tolerated in tomorrow night's Euro 2008 qualifier.

The governing body of European football confirmed they have the power to throw any country or club side out of their competitions, which include the European Championships and Champions League, if players are subjected to racism.

The Macedonian Football Association were punished after England's last match in the country three years ago, when the likes of Emile Heskey were taunted on the basis of their skin colour.

UEFA director of communications William Gaillard said: 'Sanctions have been taken against clubs and national associations in places such as Macedonia, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and so on, Hungary also.

'I think we are better equipped today to deal with such behaviour, because we have reinforced our disciplinary measures through new articles which give UEFA more power to fight racist behaviour.

'We have article 11b of our disciplinary regulations which is a new article which talks about insults against human dignity of a person or a group of persons which contemplates anything from a fine to a deductions of points, awarding a match by default or disqualification from a competition.

'So it goes quite far, in terms of giving us the kind of ammunition we may need in some circumstance.'

As England prepare to take on Macedonia in Skopje's Gradski Stadium, Gaillard told Sky Sports News that UEFA are leading the fight against racism in Europe.

'We award money practically every year to many different national associations to help them fight against racism, and in eastern Europe a number of national associations have been very involved, and clubs also, in educating their fans in trying to change something which is deeply rooted in their society.

'Football in many ways in those countries is more advanced than the rest of society.'

Gaillard stressed that Scotland remained high on their agenda, having fined Rangers £13,300 in May following their fans' behaviour during the Champions League tie against Villarreal.

'There have been many sanctions and many programmes against racism developed in places such as Italy and Spain but also recently in Scotland, dealing in particular with sectarian chants,' said Gaillard.

'We are helping fund one more programme with the Scottish FA and the Scottish clubs because people up there are very much conscious that something more has to be done.'