Soccer players found guilty of discriminatory behavior in European club competitions face a minimum 10-game ban, regional governing body UEFA said today as it moved to toughen penalties following several cases of racism.
The sanctions come a week after England’s Football Association introduced a minimum five-game ban for players found to have engaged in racist behavior. UEFA’s new regulations also impose a partial closing of a stadium for a first violation by supporters, and a full closure for repeat offenders as well as a mandatory 50,000 euro ($65,000) fine.
A referee in an Italian league match between Roma and AC Milan on May 12 suspended play for two minutes after Roma supporters aimed racist chants at Milan’s black players, including striker Mario Balotelli. Roma was fined 50,000 euros and ordered to shut part of its stadium for one game next season.
UEFA also introduced measures aimed at protecting match officials, with the minimum ban for anyone found guilty of insulting them increasing to three games from two and assaults punished by a minimum 15-game suspension, up from 10. The Nyon, Switzerland-based group also granted additional powers to its disciplinary body to take action against match-fixing, corruption and doping if member associations fail to act.
The group also decided that Berlin's Olympiastadion will host the Champions League final after next year's in Lisbon. This year’s game featuring Germany’s Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund will take place at London’s Wembley stadium in two days. The 2015 Europa League final will be played at the National Stadium in Warsaw.
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