CSKA Moscow hit by partial closure after fans racially abuse Manchester City's Yaya Touré
The Russian club CSKA Moscow will face partial closure of their Khimki stadium for their next home Champions League game against Bayern Munich after Uefa found that their supporters were guilty of racially abusing Manchester City's Ivorian midfielder Yaya Touré.
The sanction is part of new legislation passed by Uefa's executive committee in the summer to increase the penalties for clubs whose supporters racially abuse players. Any further offence this season would mean CSKA face a full stadium closure and a fine, while a third offence could mean a points deduction or even disqualification from the competition.
These measures were introduced by Uefa's executive committee – of which David Gill, the Manchester United director, is a member – in consultation with anti-racism groups. Piara Powar, a former director of Kick it Out, now executive director of the Fare Network which targets discrimination in football, said that he believed the sanctions were "strong" and encourage "individuals and institutions to face up to the problem".
Across the wider game, there was more scepticism about the strength of Uefa's sanctions. The former England international, now a radio pundit, Stan Collymore described the punishment as "Uefa clownery" on Twitter. Former Southampton forward Matt Le Tissier said that the partial closure of CSKA's stadium made Uefa look "sooo tough!!!! #sarcasm".
In a separate decision, Uefa said that it had disciplined its venue director on the night, who failed to ensure that a stadium announcement calling for the chanting to stop, as requested by the Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan, was made. Uefa confirmed that Hategan was told by Touré in the 54th minute that he was being racially abused, and that the referee communicated this to the fourth official, Sebastian Gheorghe.
Gheorghe told the venue director that he had to make an announcement over the public address system as part of the "three-step protocol", under which the referee is first obliged to request that the racial abuse ceases. If that is not effective the referee suspends play for a period. His final option is to abandon the match altogether.
The statement from the Uefa control and disciplinary body said: "The venue director [the Uefa officer in charge of football operations], who had not heard the chanting himself, did not activate the procedure. As the chanting had ceased, the referee decided to resume the game with the free-kick.
"The conclusion of the investigation is therefore that the referee had correctly triggered the first step of the procedure by requesting the stadium announcement. The venue director acted inappropriately, though in good faith, so causing the failure in the activation of the first step of the standard procedure. The Uefa venue director at the Arena Khimki has been relieved of his duties."
Uefa chose not to name the venue director in question. However, it confirmed that the abuse directed at Touré had been heard by the referee and one of the additional assistant referees. Uefa described the abuse as "the inappropriate behaviour of a small number of fans".
Michel Platini, the Uefa president, was publicly chastised by his Fifa counterpart, Sepp Blatter, for his organisation being too soft on racial abuse, when the latter made a speech at the Football Association's 150th anniversary gala in London on Saturday night. Blatter said it was "a nonsense" that clubs should be punished with stadium closures rather than points deductions.
Uefa said: "The fight against racism is a high priority. All forms of racist behaviour are considered serious offences against the disciplinary regulations and punished with the most severe sanctions."
Uefa's race wars
Oct 2002: Slovakian FA fined £18k
Fans found guilty of racist chanting directed at England players in Euro 2004 qualifier.
Sept 2003: Macedonia fined £16.5k
England players abused by crowd in a Euro 2004 qualifier in Skopje.
Sept 2004: Spanish FF fined £45k
Spanish FF fined after Shaun Wright-Phillips and Ashley Cole subjected to monkey chants.
Sept 2008: Croatian FA fined £15k
Punished for monkey chants aimed at Emile Heskey in Zagreb.
Sept 2011: Bulgarian FA fined £34k
For fans' chants at England players during Euro 2012 qualifier.
April 2012: Porto fined £16.7k
Crowd direct monkey chants at Manchester City's Mario Balotelli.
Dec 2012: Serbia fined £65k
Punished after England Under-21 players suffer racist taunts and on-pitch violence.