Arsenal FC and France striker Thierry Henry has praised UEFA for its stand against racism – including measures to close parts of stadiums because of fans' misconduct.
Because of racist chanting during AC Sparta Praha's UEFA Champions League Matchday 1 game against AFC Ajax, the Czech champions were ordered by UEFA to close part of their stadium for the tie against Arsenal last week. Some 6,300 Sparta supporters were shut out of the ground, reducing the attendance to 12,528, and the Prague club were fined an additional €32,000.
Tackling the problem
Henry's words were picked up by the Independent newspaper in England, who reported that he has faced this problem before and it has made him consider retaliating 1,000 times. "I was in Prague last week and wondered why the stadium was so empty and then someone explained it was because Sparta fans had been racist the week before against Ajax," Henry said at a forum staged by England's Kick Racism Out of Football organisation. "I thought it was tremendous. That's what you should do. It is sad but sometimes you have to do that.
"UEFA did something great in Prague. That was a great example: the game can still be played even if it is tough on the people who cannot make it to the stadium. The game has been played and the points were there and at the end of the day nothing did affect the game. But I'm sure the fans who stayed at home were gutted because they did not see their team play.
"When we players don't behave on the pitch we get a red card. But when other people are misbehaving they are still there. That can be a way forward. Some fans might miss out on the game who are not racist, but that's the way it is. That is one way to go forward."
Straight to the problem
Regarding the fine, Henry added: "You have to go straight to the problem. As a fan you might say the club's going to get a big fine but it's not affecting you because the club can deal with it. But if you say to a guy, 'you cannot go to the stadium any more', he will think twice about it next time."
©UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved.