Uefa doubles racism ban to 10 games
Players could find themselves banned for two-and-a-half seasons of European club competition if they are found guilty of racist offences, under new Uefa sanctions to combat the offence, the governing body's general secretary Gianni Infantino said.
Uefa has never invoked its current maximum five-game ban for racism, applicable under its current rules, but has doubled that tariff for any racist conduct in response to claims that it is out of touch on racism. Infantino, speaking at the SoccerEx business convention in Manchester, said there would be partial closure of stadiums for a first incident of racist abuse by fans and a full stadium closure for a second offence, plus far tougher financial penalties.
Infantino also announced referees would be encouraged to abandon matches if there was racist abuse from fans towards players at games, such as that suffered by the England Under-21 team in Serbia last year.
However, the strategy is fraught with logistical difficulties, since it is a tall order for referees to monitor what fans are shouting while running a game. The general secretary insisted there would be no problem for referees and that the idea of asking the Uefa match delegate to make the decision on abandonment had been rejected.
Infantino also brushed off claims, made last month by the Bosman rule lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont, that Uefa's financial fair play (FFP) rules would not stand up to a legal challenge under European Union competition law.
He said that he and Michel Platini had visited Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, on Monday and received assurances about the new regime, which means clubs must operate within their means.
"We are not worried about it," Infantino said of Dupont's suggestion. "First, because we have the best lawyers working for us. But also because FFP has been agreed by all of the clubs, associations and the European Commission. These haven't been imposed."
Infantino made a joke of the question of whether Manchester United's £160m Aon sponsorship must be subject to the same level of scrutiny as Manchester City's Etihad deal, which has prompted public misgivings from the governing body. Uefa has questioned whether the Etihad tie-up is a way of the club's owners covertly investing cash, rather than representing genuine income.
"[The United chief executive] David Gill is an excellent manager." Infantino joked. "Is there a difference? I don't know. We have bodies and judges for this. It is their job, not mine, thank God."
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