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FA’s Greg Clarke asks Uefa to hand referees power to take action on racism

FA’s Greg Clarke

The Football Association chairman, Greg Clarke, has called for Uefa to make it easier for referees to halt or abandon matches when they hear supporters shouting racist abuse.

Speaking at the Equal Game conference at Wembley, Clarke said that the threshold for Uefa’s three-step protocol, which dictates how officials should respond to racism, needed to be far lower – and even be applied when one fan is abusive.

“When Uefa’s three-step protocol came out, it was a watershed moment,” said Clarke. “But like every policy, it needs to evolve. The protocol asks the referee to stop the match if ‘racist behaviour is of a strong magnitude and intensity’. I don’t now think that is good enough and we should take this opportunity to revisit these thresholds.”

“The young men and women who take to the field representing our clubs and countries not only deserve, but should be entitled, to play their football in a safe environment entirely free from racial abuse.

“There should be no judgment call on whether something is of a strong magnitude. Racism is racism.”

Clarke stressed that while he was speaking in response to England’s players being abused in last week’s 5-1 win in Montenegro, racism in football was a problem in every country – including across Britain.

“I understand the protocol was designed for mass chanting, but receiving a torrent of vile, racist abuse from one person when you are taking a throw-in or a corner is wholly unacceptable too,” he added. “So we should look again at our definitions to make sure the protocol covers this, because this needs to stop.”

Raheem Sterling was the target of racist abuse in Montenegro

Raheem Sterling was the target of racist abuse in Montenegro. Photograph: Mark Greenwood/IPS/Rex/Shutterstock

Clarke also revealed the FA would be reviewing its disciplinary processes, to ensure claims of abuse between players are investigated more meticulously. And he said that the FA would ensure that training for match stewards allowed them to deal with racist behaviour by fans.

“I’m pleased that clubs here have taken swift action to ban fans and we’ve banned a player for on-pitch racism too,” added Clarke. “But that is really a bare minimum and clearly more needs to be done.

“When Raheem Sterling, Danny Rose and Callum Hudson-Odoi speak with such maturity and eloquence, we must listen, we must respond – and we must not let them down.”

Speaking at Wembley, the Uefa president, Aleksander Ceferin, said referees would be urged to be “brave” and halt matches.

“After a few incidents in the recent days and months, we will speak to the referees again, and tell them to be confident, not to be afraid to act,” he said. “They know about it, but they are people, and it’s hard to decide whether to act or not. It’s a big step. But we will speak to them, and tell them to be brave.”

He added: “I am ashamed in Europe not a week goes by without a discriminatory act taking place in a football stadium. I am ashamed to see extremist movements use our sport as a vehicle for their messages of hatred and intolerance.

“A stadium must not be a forum in which people are allowed to express their sickening fascist nostalgia. The people who do these things trample on human dignity.”

Meanwhile Romelu Lukaku has said that England should have left the pitch after being subject to racist abuse in Montenegro.

“England should have walked off I think, personally, to make a statement,” the Manchester United striker told Sky Sports News. “It’s something that us players have to stand up and talk about, so the people in top positions do something.”

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