FA fears England stars will face racial abuse at the Euros

 

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The Independent Online

The Football Association has raised concerns with Uefa over the prospect of England players being racially abused during this summer's European Championship. David Bernstein, the FA chairman, has discussed the issue with Uefa president Michel Platini and been promised that referees have "increased powers to deal with situations in matches".

Bernstein said yesterday that the FA had been "working on all sorts of contingency plans and preparing for all eventualities" should any England players be the subject of racial abuse at Euro 2012.

Last week, the UK's senior policeman in charge of footballing matters, Assistant Chief Constable Andy Holt, warned of the possibility of England players and supporters being racially abused in Ukraine, where England will play their three group games.

In the course of a meeting with Platini two weeks ago, Bernstein raised the subject; yesterday Bernstein told a Parliamentary inquiry into racism in football that Platini had assured him Uefa was taking the issue "very, very seriously".

"They have given referees increased powers to deal with situations in matches," Bernstein told the Culture, Media and Sport committee at Westminster.

When asked about Euro 2012, Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, told the same inquiry: "We've got a big worry with the European Championship."

Uefa insists it is taking steps to address the issue ahead of the tournament, which begins on 8 June. More than 80,000 police officers and stewards in Poland and Ukraine will be given "anti-discrimination training to help them identify discriminatory chants, symbols and behaviour".

Under measures which were actually introduced in 2009, referees have the "power to abandon a match should racist behaviour occur in the stadium". In the extreme, that could result in the "awarding of a match by default, deduction of points or disqualification from the competition". Any player found guilty of abusing an opponent faces a minimum of a five-match ban.

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