UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino took the opportunity at the UEFA Champions League group stage draw in Monaco to urge continued solidarity in the campaign to eliminate racism from football.
"I would like to reiterate the importance of all being united in our fight against racism," Mr Infantino told the audience. "Unfortunately we have witnessed all too clearly the destructive effect that racism can have on society.
"We have therefore strengthened our policies in the campaign against racism and intolerance and have included tougher sanctions in our disciplinary regulations. We firmly believe that our actions will speak louder than our words."
UEFA's efforts to tackle racism have taken on even greater impetus through provisions laid down in the 2013 UEFA disciplinary regulations, which were approved by the UEFA Executive Committee at its meeting in London in May. The stipulations reinforce UEFA's position in the fight against racism, based on the principle of zero tolerance.
The new Article 14 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations includes more severe sanctions and penalties against clubs, players, and officials charged with racist offences. Players and team officials will face bans of at least ten matches for racist behaviour, while board members of national associations or clubs would incur a ban from football for a specific period.
In addition, if supporters engage in racist behaviour, this will be punished with a partial stadium closure. For a second such offence there will be one match behind closed doors plus a fine of €50,000.
In March the Professional Football Strategy Council – comprising UEFA, clubs, professional leagues and the European players' union FIFPro Division Europe – unanimously adopted a resolution asking for more efforts in awareness programmes and stricter sanctions. This was endorsed by the UEFA Executive Committee, and a new resolution with concrete measures was submitted to and unanimously approved by all national associations at the XXXVII Ordinary UEFA Congress in London in May.
"Only a zero tolerance policy will stamp out this evil once and for all," said Mr Infantino. "Altogether we can, and we will win, by saying No to Racism."
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