UEFA General Secretary David Taylor asked clubs to "take action against incidents of racism" and to "pass on the message that diving, cheating and feigning injury are not to be tolerated" as he looked ahead to another exciting season of UEFA Champions League football.
Speaking before Friday's draw for the third and final qualifying round of club football's premier competition, Mr Taylor said: "At UEFA we aim to ensure that the Champions League continues to provide the benchmark for club football in terms of skill, passion, excitement and quality. It provides the ultimate stage upon which many of the world's best players are competing against each other, and provides fans with a true sporting spectacle."
That spectacle would be affected by racism, and the Scot reiterated UEFA's stance against such behaviour. He said to club representatives at UEFA headquarters in Nyon: "We ask for your help in taking action against incidents of racism either on or off the field. Racism is simply unacceptable, and as recent cases have proved will be very harshly dealt with by UEFA's disciplinary body."
The General Secretary also stressed the importance of integrity and sportsmanship in football, saying: "I would ask you to pass on to your coaches and players the message that diving, cheating and feigning injury are not to be tolerated. Such actions are serious breaches of the spirit of the game, cause difficulty for fellow professionals, and upset the fans."
Even though some of Europe's most successful clubs were in attendance in Switzerland, including five-time European champions Liverpool FC and four-time winners AFC Ajax, Mr Taylor underlined the importance of supporting the grassroots of the game. "The tremendous success story of the Champions League brings with it significant financial rewards for those clubs who qualify to participate," he said. "But we also have a duty to support other clubs, and leagues, as well the grassroots of the game and that is why UEFA reserves a part of the proceeds of the Champions League for solidarity schemes, principally to encourage youth development – the future for our game."
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