UEFA: Referees can stop matches for racism

VILNIUS - UEFA on Thursday approved new guidelines for match officials to deal with racist chants or other behaviour in stadiums which includes abandoning the game. The rules would allow the referee to stop a match and issue a warning over the public address system requesting the racist behaviour cease, UEFA said in a statement. If this did not work, he could suspend the game for 5 to 10 minutes. "As a third and final step, if the racist behaviour does not cease after the game has restarted, the referee shall as a last resort, definitively abandon the match," UEFA added. UEFA president Michel Platini said the rules were aimed at giving the people on the ground the power to act. "There have been racist incidents in eastern countries and the Balkans," he told a news conference. "I think it's important since we are fighting for zero tolerance when it comes to doping and corruption in soccer. We have decided for some time to also have zero tolerance towards racism," he added. The executive body also decided that any consequences, such as forfeit, stadium suspension, fines or others, from the racism outbreak "will be dealt with by the UEFA disciplinary bodies". 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. UEFA also discussed financial fair play, to make sure that UEFA's competitions remain fair and balanced, and that clubs work within their financial means. UEFA general secretary David Taylor said in the statement that the next major step on this issue would be the setting up of a financial control panel, which will be done at the next executive committee meeting in September. "The key principle on the road towards a fairer and more transparent game is that football should reward those clubs living within their means," UEFA added. "This means that clubs shall need to reduce their spending. To be viable, salaries and transfers should be proportionate to the generated income," it added.