UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has admitted he feels “shame” over the recent incidents of racism in football.
England trio Raheem Sterling, Danny Rose and Callum Hudson-Odoi were all targeted by abuse during last month’s 5-1 victory in Montenegro, while GNK Dinamo and Dynamo Kiev have been punished with full or partial venue closures due to racist behaviour by supporters.
Ceferin has made the trip to Wembley for the first Equal Game conference held to help tackle discrimination and the former lawyer was disgruntled at having to attend a conference to promote diversity.
“I am ashamed, ashamed that in 2019 we have to hold a conference to promote diversity,” said Ceferin.
“It is worrying to see world leaders and politicians playing down racist and discriminatory incidents.”
English football bosses are also ready to strengthen punishments against racism.
Chairman Greg Clarke has revealed the Football Association is reviewing disciplinary processes, to ensure claims of abuse are investigated more meticulously.
Clarke also revealed a review of training for match stewards on how to handle discrimination issues, with the FA keen to act after England stars were subjected to racist abuse in Podgorica.
“When Raheem Sterling, Danny Rose and Callum Hudson-Odoi speak with such maturity and eloquence, we must listen, we must respond – and we must not let them down,” said FA boss Clarke.
“Let me be clear, I’m using this match (Montenegro-England) as an example of something that’s happening across all our societies, and across all of Europe.”
“None of us can be naive enough to think racism doesn’t happen at all of our countries and matches. Clearly more needs to be done.
“We must do more in England, and more across Europe, and we must do this together.
“That’s the strong leadership we need to ensure we really do have an equal game. Now we must put some concrete actions in place.”
Clarke believes it is time to examine once again UEFA’s three-step process for halting matches as a result of racist abuse.
Current UEFA guidelines allow referees to stop, suspend or abandon matches due to racist abuse, but Clarke believes it is time to lower the threshold that allows referees to induce that process.
“When UEFA’s three-step protocol came out, it was a watershed moment,” Clarke said.
“It was firm action. A proposal on how to deal with racism in stadia. Like every policy, it needs to evolve. We need to see if it works and we need to see if it can be improved. I think it can.
“The protocol asks the referee to stop the match if ‘racist behaviour is of a strong magnitude and intensity’. I don’t now think that is good enough and we should take this opportunity to revisit these thresholds.
“The young men and women who take to the field representing our clubs and countries not only deserve, but should be entitled, to play their football in a safe environment entirely free from racial abuse.
“There should be no judgement call on whether something is of a strong magnitude. Racism is racism.”
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