UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said that he wants referees to be “brave” and stop matches in the event of any acts of racism from fans.
His statement follows the numerous acts of racial abuse that the world of football has witnessed, especially in the last couple of months.
It has only been less than a week since Callum Hudson-Odoi, Chelsea and England player was subjected to racial abuse on two occasions, first against Dynamo Kiev and then against the Montenegro national team.
Earlier, Manchester City and England star Raheem Sterling also faced a similarly bitter experience while playing against Chelsea in December, and had since called upon the authorities to take “a proper stance” against the serious issue.
“The moment a match is stopped, or it’s not played, I think that 90% of normal people in the stadium would kick the asses of those idiots,” said Ceferin in a strongly-worded statement yesterday. “It’s 2019, it’s not 100 years ago.”
“We will speak to the referees again, and tell them to be confident, not to be afraid to act,” he furt4Uher added.
A study published in November had notably revealed that at least half of football supporters in England have witnessed racism during matches.
“This is a huge problem. Not just the Balkans, all eastern Europe. There’s not much immigration there because everybody wanted to go to western Europe because of economic reasons, jobs, a better life. So it takes some time. But of course you see Italy, one of the biggest problems with racism, sexism and homophobia. You have England, where you have problems,” Ceferin explained.
“It’s a problem of intolerant people, not a problem of nations.”
Ceferin does not that believe UEFA’s punishments need to be stricter.
“I don’t see any tougher sanction than forbidding the fans, matches played in front of empty stadiums, which has happened in Croatia a few times, and the money sanctions,” he said.
“If it’s chronic, we could throw out a club team or a national team from a competition. Everything is possible. But that is a last resort,” he concluded.
Earlier, Chelsea’s manager Maurizio Sarri, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino were among the set of Premier League managers who publicly proclaimed that they would be prepared to take their players off the pitch so as to combat any racist chanting.