Madrid, Oct 15 (IANS) UEFA Chairman Aleksander Ceferin on Tuesday promised to eliminate racism in football, calling on governments to join efforts aimed at tackling the plague.
Ceferin’s remarks came after incidents that took place during a Euro 2020 qualifying match between Bulgaria and England, a game that was halted twice by the referee and was on the verge of suspension, reports Efe news.
England’s 6-0 away victory in Sofia was marred by a section of the home fans who chanted monkey noises, did Nazi salutes and wore shirts with the slogan “No Respect,” a rejection of UEFA’s anti-racist Respect campaign.
The abuse could be heard through the televised broadcast of the match. Several groups of fans were evicted from the Vasil Levski stadium in Sofia.
“There were times, not long ago, when the football family thought that the scourge of racism was a distant memory. The last couple of years have taught us that such thinking was, at best, complacent,” Ceferin said in a statement issued by UEFA.
“The rise of nationalism across the continent has fuelled some unacceptable behaviour and some have taken it upon themselves to think that a football crowd is the right place to give voice to their appalling views,” he added.
“UEFA is the only football body to ban a player for ten matches for racist behaviour – the most severe punishment level in the game. Believe me, UEFA is committed to doing everything it can to eliminate this disease from football. We cannot afford to be content with this; we must always strive to strengthen our resolve,” he continued.
“More broadly, the football family – everyone from administrators to players, coaches and fans – needs to work with governments and NGOs to wage war on the racists and to marginalize their abhorrent views to the fringes of society.
“Football associations themselves cannot solve this problem. Governments too need to do more in this area. Only by working together in the name of decency and honour will we make progress,” Ceferin concluded.