UEFA President Michel Platini has highlighted the measures that referees are allowed to take in the event of racist incidents at UEFA matches – including the empowerment to stop a game definitively.
Speaking on French radio station RTL, Mr Platini also welcomed AC Milan and Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng's move to leave the field of play as a result of racist conduct by opposing supporters during a friendly match earlier this month. Boateng was followed by his Milan team-mates and the game was abandoned.
"We have put rules in place with the referees in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League," Mr Platini explained. UEFA was the first football body to provide match officials with guidelines on what steps to take in the event of racist abuse during games. In July 2009, the UEFA Executive Committee approved guidelines for match officials to deal with racist incidents in stadiums, which gave referees the power to abandon games in serious cases.
If the referee becomes aware of serious racist behaviour, or is informed of it by the fourth official, he will, as a first step, halt the match and ask for an announcement to be made over the public address system requesting the public immediately stop such racist conduct. As a second step, if the racist behaviour does not cease once the game has restarted, the referee will suspend play for a reasonable period of time, for example five to ten minutes, and request the teams go to the dressing rooms. A further announcement will be made over the public address system to the public.
As a third and final step, if the racist behaviour persists, the referee will definitively abandon the match.
Turning to Kevin-Prince Boateng, Mr Platini said he had positively greeted the player's decision to leave the field. "I appreciated this very much. I also sent a message of congratulations to AC Milan's [vice-president] Mr Galliani. I found [the decision] a good thing to do."
The UEFA President reiterated UEFA's zero-tolerance stance towards racism. "Now we have to root out all of these individuals who come [to matches], and who have nothing to do with football, and who act out of their own interests."
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