AAP Soccer

FIFA boss wants lifetime bans for racists

By AAP Newswire

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has demanded "new, stronger and more effective ways to eradicate racism in football" and has called for worldwide life bans for those found guilty of racist behaviour.

His comments follow the abuse suffered by England players during their Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria.

UEFA has 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 the racist behaviour, throwing of objects and disruption of a national anthem by home supporters, and showing replays on a giant screen.

The English Football Association has 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 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."

England manager Gareth Southgate felt his players and staff made a "bigger statement than any team ever has done within international football" with their actions in Sofia.

The group decided to finish the match during a half-time discussion, but 10 minutes before the break he spoke to assistant Steve Holland about the likelihood of the match being called off given the racist abuse inside the Vasil Levski National Stadium.

Under pressure from Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov, the nation's football federation chief Borislav Mihaylov resigned on Tuesday.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said soccer could not solve the problem on its own and politicians must play a greater role.