UEFA wants standard rules on tackling racism
UEFA is seeking to implement Europe-wide rules on tackling racism at football matches, the organisation's president Michel Platini has revealed, following a string of high-profile incidents this season, particularly in Italy.
Platini said that European football's governing body will push for agreement when its members meet in London later this month on steps to take in the event of offensive chanting from the terraces.
Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi had given a textbook example of how to handle such a situation by temporarily stopping the match when AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli was subjected to racist taunts from Roma fans last weekend, he added.
"I congratulate Mr Rocchi for what he did. Respect for differences is more important than winning," Platini told AFP in an interview in Amsterdam on Wednesday.
"Stopping matches, making an announcement via the tannoy, even if it means halting the match completely if it (the chanting) doesn't stop, is what we've recommended for a long time.
"It's worked. You stop the match, you make an announcement and if (the chanting) stops, you restart. If it doesn't, the referee abandons the game.
"It's what we've done in our European competitions for four years. We're going to propose guidelines in London at the UEFA executive committee meeting (on May 24) to standardise (rules), so that what we do in our competitions also happens in the leagues."
UEFA secretary-general Gianni Infantino last month outlined tough new sanctions both on and off the pitch to rid the game of the scourge of discrimination and abuse.
They include a minimum 10-match ban for players found guilty of racial abuse, plus forcing clubs to play behind closed doors in the event of proven racism by fans.
Racism has been an unwelcome hot topic in European football this year, notably after AC Milan star Kevin-Prince Boateng walked off in protest at taunts during a friendly match in Italy in January.
His decision, backed by team-mates who also left the field in support, was hailed by anti-racism campaigners.
But it prompted differences of opinion about whether his action was correct and renewed debate about whether the existing system of sanctions, particularly fines for players and clubs, were an effective deterrent.
Platini's counterpart at world governing body FIFA, Sepp Blatter, said he could not condone the idea of players or teams abandoning games to protest racism.
On Monday, the Italian league said it applauded Rocchi's actions and backed UEFA plans to close whole sections of grounds in the event of incidents similar to those against Balotelli at Milan's San Siro stadium.
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