Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Walk-off not the answer to racism, says Boyce

Jim Boyce

Jim Boyce says he supports Sepp Blatter’s view that players should not walk off the field in the face of racist abuse.

Ghanaian midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng led his AC Milan team-mates in a walk-out at a friendly match in Italy in a gesture widely praised by players and politicians.

However, Fifa president Blatter argued that such an extreme reaction is not a solution to the problem of racism in the game which Boyce feels is “spreading like a cancer”.

Fifa vice-president Boyce said: “I would like to say firstly that I completely understand the feelings of the player and I recognise his anger and frustration.

“Anyone would be appalled to witness such behaviour but I must also say that walking off the pitch is not the solution to the problem. If that was to continue to happen the game would completely disintegrate.

“What needs to happen is that the sanctions imposed following these incidents must be a lot tougher.

“Associations who are found to be repeat offenders should be suspended from playing in international competitions and where clubs are guilty of repeat offences, stadiums should be closed down.

“We are all finding it very difficult to understand the punishments handed out after the abuse suffered by England Under-21 players in Serbia. Even the Uefa president, Michel Platini, is appealing the decision taken by its disciplinary committee in this matter.

“When the president of Uefa takes this decision it underlines how unsatisfactory the punishments are. Racism is a very severe problem now and the authorities, Uefa and Fifa, need to get tough.

“Fining a club is not the answer but I don’t believe players walking off a pitch is the answer either. The answer is tougher sanctions so people learn lessons and understand that such behaviour will not be tolerated.

“Supporters guilty of racist chanting should be banned for life, stadiums closed down and associations suspended.”

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