Soccer Players in Europe Face 10-Game Bans for Racism, UEFA Says

Soccer players face 10-game bans and supporters could be barred from stadiums under anti-racism measures being drawn up by the sport’s European governing body.

UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino said soccer needs to do more to tackle racism following a wave of high-profile incidents in recent months. UEFA today ordered Ukraine’s Dynamo Kyiv to play a game without spectators next season following “racist conduct by supporters” at matches against French teams Paris Saint-Germain and Bordeaux.

“We have to have sanctions and they must have a deterrent effect, and what we are proposing is if a player or official is convicted of racism they should receive a 10-match suspension at least,” Infantino said at the Soccerex convention in Manchester, northwest England, today.

Under the plans, which would only be applicable to games in UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League, there would also be partial closure of stadiums for a first incident of racist abuse by fans and a full closure for a second offense.

“If supporters at a club are found guilty of racist abuse the first sanction will be a partial closure of the part of the stadium from which the racist abuse took place,” Infantino said. A second offense will incur a total closure and a fine of at least 50,000 euros ($65,000), he said.

Soccer has struggled to grapple with racism, and Sepp Blatter, who heads global governing body FIFA, in January suggested that fines don’t work and proposed that teams should face points deductions or even relegation. He appeared to backtrack on that suggestion last month, saying that some groups might then try to deliberately get games abandoned.

AC Milan Incident

Blatter’s initial reaction was sparked by an incident during a game in Italy between top-league AC Milan and fourth-division Pro Patria, when Milan’s Kevin-Prince Boateng and his teammates walked off in protest at racist abuse from opposition fans. After initially saying players shouldn’t leave the field, Blatter made his suggestion for tougher sanctions.

England’s Premier League has also been embroiled in racism controversies in recent times.

Former England captain John Terry was fined and banned for four matches this season for using racist language toward Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during a Chelsea league game in 2011. Liverpool’s Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez served an eight-game ban last season after racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.