Referees to stop matches marred by racism

BUCHAREST - Referees will be given the power to take players off the field for as long as they see fit if there is racist behaviour at club or international matches organised by UEFA. The Executive Committee of European football's governing body ruled on Tuesday that referees will be allowed to take "strong and decisive action" if matches are marred by racist jeering from fans. The idea will now be examined more closely and new guidelines will be given to referees after the next Executive Committee meeting in Vilnius at the beginning of July. UEFA General Secretary David Taylor told Reuters: "We have been working on this idea for a long time now and the time has come to allow the referee to stop, suspend, or abandon the match because of outside interference of any kind. "That could be 10 minutes, it could be longer, depending on the circumstances." He added: "We want to send a clear warning that racist behaviour of any kind will not be tolerated at UEFA matches." A number of racist incidents, mainly involving chants from home fans, have blighted matches in recent years and UEFA have often been criticised for imposing relatively minor fines and sanctions on the governing body of offending nations. Whether or not matches could forfeited as a result of racist abuse has yet to be decided. Romania, celebrating the 100th anniversary of its FA's foundation on Tuesday, was chosen as the host nation for the European Under-19 Championship in 2011. The meeting concludes on Wednesday when the host cities for Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine will be announced. The Executive Committee also approved its annual Monaco Charity Award for one million Swiss Francs to be presented to the British National Association of Disabled Supporters (NADS) for a four-year development programme for their Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE) project.