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Old 15th March 2006, 10:35   #1
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Default Racism: Rio slams UEFA

Rio slams UEFA
14th March 2006

UNITED defender Rio Ferdinand has launched a scathing attack on UEFA for their failure to stamp out racism in football.

The Reds defender is backing a European Parliament resolution which is calling on referees to be given extended powers to abandon matches where supporters make racially abusive taunts.

Ferdinand has grown increasingly frustrated with UEFA paying little more than ’lip-service’ to the problem, which has spread across Italy and Spain and into the heart of Eastern Europe.

The 28-year-old was part of the England side when Shaun Wright-Phillips and Ashley Cole were singled out for monkey chants by Spanish supporters during last year’s friendly in Madrid.

World governing body FIFA imposed a paltry £44,750 fine on the Spanish FA for the abuse, a punishment which attracted widespread criticism.

Since then, Paolo di Canio has defended his use of a fascist salute after Lazio games, while only last month, Barcelona’s Samuel Eto’o threatened to walk off the field in protest after he was racially abused by Real Zaragoza supporters.

Eto’o was also taunted in the corresponding fixture last year, yet the Spanish Football Federation fined Zaragoza a paltry 600 Euros (£400), following up with a 9000 Euro fine (£6000) for the latest offence.


Now, Ferdinand is calling for action.

“For too long now, European football authorities have not taken the problem of racism in the game seriously and refuse to acknowledge how widespread the problem is,” he said.

“I talk to a lot of European players and know there are big problems in Spain, in Italy and in Eastern Europe.

“Just look at what happened to Samuel Eto’o. He was racially abused against Zaragoza and what happened? Zaragoza were fined a paltry 9000 Euros by the Spanish Football Federation.

“If he had reacted to the fans that were abusing him by gesturing to them, he would have been fined a couple of weeks’ wages at the very least - but, yet again, nothing happens to the fans that abused him.

“It is time for UEFA to stop paying lip-service to the problem. The fines handed out after the England-Spain game were a joke. UEFA should look at imposing huge fines or deducting points within tournaments or competitions.

“If UEFA really is serious about kicking racism into touch they should adopt some of the penalties called for in the (EP) resolution and get on with punishing those who defame the game we all love with their backward, racist views.”


UEFA director of communications William Gaillard insisted “we don’t feel any limits to what we can do” to combat racism yet added “we cannot interfere” in the cases Ferdinand spoke of.

Gaillard also suggested Ferdinand “should do a little bit of homework” to understand how sanctions are handled.

“I understand the reasons for his frustration because racism is a very ugly phenomenon and I think we need to stamp it out,” Gaillard told Sky Sports News.

“At the same time I think a professional football player should do a little bit of homework to understand how the game is organised because he quotes two instances - the Spain against England friendly 18 months ago and then the Zaragoza-Barcelona match.

“He should know both these games were not under UEFA jurisdiction. All international friendlies are played under FIFA jurisdiction while of course Spanish league games are played under the authority of the Spanish football association.

“We cannot interfere. This is just the way the jurisdiction is.”

Gaillard was keen to highlight the work UEFA are doing to stamp out the problem of racism.

“As far as we’re concerned we don’t feel any limits to what we can do and we have shown that.

“UEFA has been relentless in its fight against racism and we’re always ready to do more.”
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