3 Apr 2019

Football: Call for matches to be abandoned if players are racially abused

10:59 am on 3 April 2019

European football authorities are calling on referees to stop matches when there is racial abuse from fans.

The Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin said he will ask referees to be "brave" and stop games when their is racial abuse.

The Chelsea and England winger 18 year old Callum Hudson-Odoi, was subjected to abuse in games against Dynamo Kiev and Montenegro last month.

Chelsea and England footballer Callum Hudson-Odoi

Chelsea and England footballer Callum Hudson-Odoi Photo: Photosport

"The moment a match is stopped, or it's not played, I think that 90% of normal people in the stadium would kick the asses of those idiots," said Ceferin.

"It's 2019, it's not 100 years ago."

Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling suffered alleged racist abuse from Chelsea fans in a Premier League game at Stamford Bridge in December, while a study published in November found that half of football supporters in the UK have witnessed racism while watching matches.

Sterling has called on football's authorities to take "a proper stance" and crack down on racist abuse.

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri, Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp and Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino are among the managers to say they would be prepared to take their players off the pitch to combat racist chanting.

"We will speak to the referees again, and tell them to be confident, not to be afraid to act," said Ceferin, the head of European football's governing body.

"This is a huge problem. Not just the Balkans, all eastern Europe. There's not much immigration there because everybody wanted to go to western Europe because of economic reasons, jobs, a better life," he said.

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin.

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin. Photo: Photosport

"So it takes some time. But of course you see Italy, one of the biggest problems with racism, sexism and homophobia. You have England, where you have problems.

"It's a problem of intolerant people, not a problem of nations."

Anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out said last week that "it's time for Uefa to take strong, decisive action - fines won't do", adding: "Extended stadium bans or tournament expulsion are what's needed."

Ceferin does not believe Uefa's punishments need to be tougher.

"I don't see any tougher sanction than forbidding the fans, matches played in front of empty stadiums, which has happened in Croatia a few times, and the money sanctions," he said.

"If it's chronic, we could throw out a club team or a national team from a competition. Everything is possible. But that is a last resort."