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Infantino calls for new plan to clean up the game


Sorry sight: England players during a break over racist chanting
Sorry sight: England players during a break over racist chanting
Gianni Infantino

By Robert Jones

Fifa president Gianni Infantino has demanded "new, stronger and more effective ways to eradicate racism in football" in the wake of the abuse suffered by England players during their Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria, calling for worldwide life bans for those found guilty of racist behaviour.

Uefa have opened disciplinary proceedings against Bulgaria and England following Monday's match in Sofia, which was stopped twice as Bulgarian fans made Nazi salutes and directed monkey noises at black England players.

Charges against the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) include racist behaviour, throwing of objects and disruption of a national anthem by supporters, and showing replays on a giant screen.

The English Football Association have been charged with disruption of a national anthem, as well as providing an insufficient number of travelling stewards.

Infantino said in a statement: "I call on all football governing bodies to join us and think together of new, stronger and more effective ways to eradicate racism in football.

"As a starting point, I suggest that all competition organisers enact regulations which envisage life bans from stadiums for those who are found guilty of racist behaviour at a football match. Fifa can then enforce such bans at a worldwide level."

Following Uefa's anti-racism protocols, an announcement was made in the 28th minute of the match warning fans that any further incidents of racist abuse could result in it being abandoned, while another pause before half-time only added to the nasty spectacle.

A three-step protocol from the governing body would have allowed the officials to take the teams off for a break in play as a second measure before ultimately taking the final step of abandoning the game.

Infantino, who during his time at Uefa introduced that protocol, added: "So many times we say that there is no place for racism in football, but nonetheless we still face challenges to tackle this problem in our sport, as we do in society.

"We will need the support of public authorities to help us identify and punish the culprits but we probably also need to think more broadly on what we can do to fix this.

"When we proposed the three-step procedure in 2009 when I was at Uefa, and then made the regulations even tougher a few years later, we could not have imagined that so shortly thereafter we would again be having to think of how to combat this obnoxious disease that seems to be getting even worse in some parts of the world."

The cases against the BFU and FA will be dealt with by the governing body's control, ethics and disciplinary body, with the date of the meeting yet to be confirmed.

An FA spokesperson said: "We acknowledge the charges but will not be commenting further as it is an ongoing process."

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