UEFA has underlined that it is doing all it can in the fight against racism, in response to accusations that it has not taken the issue seriously.
Manchester United FC and England defender Rio Ferdinand was quoted earlier this week claiming that not enough was being done in terms of fines or point deductions. He gave two examples of racial abuse at the Spain-England international friendly in November 2004 and the Real Zaragoza-FC Barcelona league match earlier this month.
In response, UEFA communications and public affairs director William Gaillard said the incidents were out of UEFA jurisdiction and added that a European Parliament resolution on tackling racism in football, adopted in Strasbourg yesterday, reflected positively on European football's governing body's achievements in partnership with the Football Against Racism Europe (FARE) network.
For matters where UEFA was the authority in control, Gaillard said heavy fines, stadium bans and fan restrictions have all been employed in the past year. "I have a lot of sympathy for Rio and it is truly horrible that any individual should be singled out just for being the person they are," he said. "But I ask him to look back 25 years, when no one did anything about racism, to the present day, when punitive measures are taken across Europe to try to stamp out, not just racism, but sectarianism and homophobia as well.
End in sight
"I hope Rio Ferdinand plays for a long time but I truly believe, before his career is over, we will have dealt with this problem," Gaillard added. "I think UEFA has been relentless in its fight against racism."
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