NYON: UEFA’s muddled thinking over racism in football has been laid bare by Michel Platini writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
In an interview with French radio channel RTL the president of the European federation applauded Milan players for walking off the pitch in protest at abusive chants during a Italian domestic friendly against Pro Patria.
“It was wonderful,” he said. “I really liked it a lot. I even called AC Milan to congratulate them.”
Yet back last June Platini, three times European Footballer of the Year in his playing days, warned that players who walked off the pitch at Euro 2012 because of racial abuse would be booked.
UEFA has come under increasing criticism, including from FIFA president Sepp Blatter, over its equivocal attitude towards racism. Blatter has suggested points penalties might be the only effective, example-setting punishment.
Platini believed match officials had enough weapons at their disposal to deal with racist chanting.
He said: “If the officials hear racist chants, there is an appeal for them to desist over the public address system and the match is stopped for a minute. After that if the chanting resumes there is a stoppage of two minutes and a new appeal for them to stop.
“A third time and the referee can call the match off. It is the referee who is the boss in the stadium.”
However, Platini insisted that racism was not as direct a threat to the credibility of football as was matchfixing.
Adding to a steady stream of incidents recently has been the temporary suspension of the president and four other officials of the South African Football Association over allegations that four friendly internationals in the build-up to the 2010 World Cup were fixed.
Last year the president of top Turkish club Fenerbahce was sentenced to more than six years in prison for match-fixing and more than 20 Italian clubs were investigated by their national federation as part of an inquiry into match-fixing.
Platini said: “If, tomorrow, we go watch a game already knowing the outcome, football is dead. Racism, violence do not affect just football but the public. On the other hand we’re directly concerned by match-fixing. For me, this is the big shame.”
In the interview Platini repeated his opposition to goal-line technology and wish to see the 2022 World Cup in Qatar played in the winter. He refused to discuss his possible interest in becoming the next FIFA president.
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