South Africa minister urges clamp down on racism

JOHANNESBURG - UEFA should take a tougher stance against racism and discrimination in football, Tokyo Sexwale, a senior member of South Africa's 2010 World Cup organising committee, said on Saturday. Sexwale, 56, speaking at a news conference to launch FIFA's anti-discrimination days being staged during the Confederations Cup semi-finals next week, said European football's governing body should impose harsher penalties in the fight against racism. "It worries us to see the monster of racism raising its head in countries like Spain again," said Sexwale, who is South Africa's Minister for Human Settlements and a member of FIFA's Committee for Fair Play and Social Responsibility. "I think one of the most important things in the struggle against discrimination and racism is how sporting officials react when they see acts of racism. "Does UEFA give sufficient penalties when these things happen? I think we should call upon UEFA to be more stringent because if you don't give harsh penalties it looks like you are playing around with the question of racism. "Whether it is an Irish player being discriminated against by an English player, or a Russian looking down on a Ukrainian, or a Brazilian looking down on an African, for racist purposes, that's what we should focus on. It must be stopped." NEW RULE UEFA has been accused in the past of handing out minimal fines and penalties when racism has occurred at its matches. However, its Executive Committee ruled in Bucharest last month that referees in charge of UEFA matches would be empowered to stop games and order teams off the field of play if racist chanting occurs at its matches in future. UEFA general secretary David Taylor told Reuters at the time: "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. We want to send a clear warning that racist behaviour of any kind will not be tolerated at UEFA matches."