Uefa now has a clear strat­egy to deal with racist chants – about time, too

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Total Football - KEITH HACK­ETT REF­EREE’S VIEW

If a player ap­proaches Ivan Be­bek, the ref­eree at this evening’s Bul­garia v Eng­land match in Sofia, and says there has been racist abuse from the crowd, the match of­fi­cial will im­me­di­ately adopt Uefa’s three­step pro­to­col.

Although he will have been trained for such a mo­ment, and have the sup­port of Uefa’s match del­e­gate and match ob­server, there is a tremen­dous onus on the ref­eree, who may well not have heard the abuse him­self.

This is what he will do:

The ref­eree will have a meet­ing at the side of the pitch with the match del­e­gate and both man­agers. I would be in favour of the cap­tains be­ing in­volved, too. The ref­eree will then ar­range for an­nounce­ments to be made re­quest­ing the fans to de­sist from racist abuse.

If the racist be­hav­iour does not stop after the re­sump­tion of the game, the ref­eree will sus­pend the match and take the play­ers off the field of play. The match is sus­pended for a rea­son­able pe­riod of be­tween five and 10 min­utes. A sec­ond an­nounce­ment is made and then the game is restarted.

If the racist be­hav­iour does not cease after the game has restarted, the ref­eree moves to the last re­sort of stop­ping the game and aban­don­ing the match.

There is a dan­ger that if a team are los­ing, there may be some idiots who would want to see the game aban­doned. In those cases, the only sen­si­ble and ef­fec­tive pun­ish­ment is sta­dium clo­sure, as every­body would be af­fected and it would be a cost penalty to all in­volved.

But Uefa’s pro­to­col is a sen­si­ble process that does ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to avoid the ul­ti­mate de­ci­sion. While you can un­der­stand a player who has been abused con­tem­plat­ing walk­ing off uni­lat­er­ally or with team-mates, they now know that Uefa has a clear strat­egy in place to deal with the sit­u­a­tion.

There was a time, when I was ref­er­ee­ing, when I am sure racism from spec­ta­tors oc­curred but we had no guid­ance or ad­vice so, re­gret­tably, games were al­lowed to con­tinue and of­fend­ers went un­pun­ished.

Nowa­days, we are much more aware of sen­si­tiv­i­ties around racist ac­tions. With raised aware­ness has come in­creased train­ing and now Uefa’s pro­to­col, which I fully en­dorse. In fact I would also like to see it in­tro­duced in the Pre­mier League and other com­pe­ti­tions here. Racist abuse is not al­lowed on the streets, and should not be al­lowed in our sta­di­ums ei­ther.

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