Refs can abandon matches due to racism

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Referees have been given the power to halt and even abandon matches in European competitions if there is racist chanting by fans under new guidelines announced by Uefa today.

Match officials will use a three-step system to deal with racist behaviour in stadiums in all European competitions.

There have been numerous incidents of racism in Champions League and Uefa Cup games in recent years - many involving British clubs - and last season Atletico Madrid were forced to play one game behind closed doors after Marseille players were abused.

Under the new rules, the first step will be to stop the match and issue a demand over the public address system for the racist behaviour to stop, and secondly - if it does not stop - to take the teams off the pitch for five to 10 minutes.

If racist chanting continues after that, then the Uefa delegate and referee will have the power to abandon the match.

Uefa president Michel Platini, speaking after a meeting of the European governing body's executive committee in Vilnius, Lithuania, said: "Our policy on racism is one of zero tolerance.

"It was necessary to give the pitch people the means to do something, and we have determined the parameters and lines of conduct, whereby in important cases of racist behaviour in a stadium, a referee must stop the match.

"There are people of authority such as the referee and match delegate who can consult before deciding to temporarily suspend a match for five or 10 minutes, in agreement with officials responsible for security - and from then, if the atmosphere remains negative, the match must be stopped."

The executive committee will also announce decisions on "financial fair play" at their next meeting in September and said clubs need to cut their spending.

A Uefa statement said: "The key principle on the road towards a fairer and more transparent game is that football should reward those clubs living within their means.

"This means that clubs shall need to reduce their spending.

"To be viable, salaries and transfers should be proportionate to the generated income. Clubs should invest in their youth sectors, and use their homegrown talent to reinforce their squads."

Uefa general secretary David Taylor said the proposals would be discussed with clubs, players and leagues at the next meeting of the Professional Football Strategy Council at the end of August.

It was also confirmed that an experiment with two additional assistant referees, one behind each goal-line, would take place in this season's Europa League group stage.