Racism could stop play, Uefa claims in new initiative

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The Independent Online

Uefa will back referees who stop matches because of racist behaviour from fans, the European governing body's director of communications William Gaillard said yesterday. "We are conscious that this kind of phenomenon [racism] does not disappear overnight," Gaillard said.

"We have clearly emphasised that we will back drastic measures to deal with drastic behaviour. Stopping games is a drastic measure and carries a point penalty for the home team as it is considered a 3-0 loss."

Gaillard, attending a Unite Against Racism conference in Warsaw, said Uefa had already shut down stadiums and banned teams from tournaments because of fans' bad behaviour. Earlier this week the former England defender Sol Campbell called on the Premier League to dock points from clubs whose fans were found guilty of indecent and racist chanting. Campbell, the Portsmouth captain, has been the target of verbal abuse from Tottenham fans since leaving to join Arsenal in 2001. In January, 11 fans were charged with indecent chanting towards him during a match between Portsmouth and Spurs last year.

Poland, set to co-host the European Championship in 2012, suffered a string of anti-Semitic and racist incidents late last year which triggered a debate about racism among Polish football hooligans. Gaillard said racism issues would not hamper Poland's preparations for the tournament as they were not one of the requirements taken into account.

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