Anti-racism campaigners back Uefa stance at Euro 2012


Anti-racism campaigners have backed UEFA's stance on racist abuse at the European Championship, despite Michel Platini's mixed messages on the matter.

UEFA president Platini yesterday confirmed referees had been instructed to call a halt to matches at this summer's tournament if a player was racially taunted.

But he warned any player who otherwise left the field in protest over abuse from the stands would be yellow carded.

And the former France star also appeared to suggest clubs should not be held responsible for racism among their supporters, something that would contradict UEFA's previous stance on the matter.

But Piara Powar, the executive director of Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE), was confident European football's governing body would not hesitate to expel teams from Euro 2012 if necessary.

"For us, the UEFA system is three strikes and you're out," he said.

"Fine and then another fine and then a ban or forcing teams to play behind closed doors.

"If the system is in full effect, we could have a team kicked out of the competition for far-right banners."

He added: "There is no question we are worried about this tournament more than any other.

"I think Platini understands what is going on.

"There is actually a process in place where we have 31 independent international monitors.

"It is the job of these guys not to just look out for the obvious racism but the nuanced issues.

"It is certainly not the job of the referee to pick out banners and discriminatory chants."

Platini, when asked if teams should be docked points for racist abuse, said: "I don't see why the clubs should be responsible for their fans.

"I don't think we should take three points from a side and they go down into the second division because their fans are racist.

"We've decided on the best solution. We stop the game.

"This debate will rage on over the coming years. How do we punish these clubs?

"There are clubs which keep and eye on these fans and others which don't."

Platini also confirmed the rule preventing players from leaving the field without the referee's permission would be enforced in Poland and Ukraine this summer.

Mario Balotelli last week threatened to walk off if he suffered racist abuse during Italy's Euro 2012 games but Platini said the Manchester City striker would be punished for doing so unless the officials stopped the game.

"It's a yellow card," Platini said.

"We'd certainly support the referee if he decided to stop the game.

"It's not a player, Mr Balotelli, who's in charge of refereeing. It's the referee who takes these decisions.

"So, the referee has been given advice and he can stop the game if there are problems.

"We will stop the game if there are problems because I think racism is the worst of this."