The Westminster Chaplain for Sport has urged UEFA to “ratchet up” sanctions against clubs if their supporters continue to misbehave and spout racial abuse.
The call comes as anti-discrimination campaigners Kick It Out claimed the governing body of European football “missed an opportunity” to get tough on racism after it ordered Bulgaria to play their next home qualifier behind closed doors over the racist behaviour of their fans during the Euro 2020 match against England.
Kick It Out said they were “disheartened but not surprised” by the sanction, with a second match behind closed doors suspended for two years. The federation (BFU) was also fined 75,000 euros (£64,641).
A section of the crowd during the match in Sofia on 14th October directed monkey chants at England’s black players and staff, while some were seen making Nazi salutes.
England’s players and staff were praised for their dignified response.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin called on the game’s authorities and society as a whole to “wage war” on racism, but Kick It Out said the decision would give anyone affected by abusive behaviour “little faith” that European football’s governing body was doing enough to prevent it.
Westminster Chaplain for Sport Mgr Vladimir Felzmann echoed this response, saying that UEFA must increase punishments for racist behaviour.
“UEFA should make it clear that sanctions will be ratcheted up if supporters carry on misbehaving. Next time two matches, then three matches played behind closed doors might help the far-right in any country realise that, on the world stage, this tribalism is no longer acceptable,” he told The Catholic Universe.
Mgr Felzmann’s comments also come after Brescia striker Mario Balotelli threatened to walk off the pitch last weekend during his side’s fixture against Hellas Verona after Verona fans targeted the former Manchester City and Liverpool forward with racist abuse.
Italy manager Roberto Mancini, who also worked with Balotelli at Inter Milan and Manchester City, hit out at racism in the game.
‘Football is made to unite, we must all work together to ensure there are no more displays of intolerance of any kind,’ the Catholic manager said on Twitter.
This weekend’s Premier League fixtures:
Saturday 9th November
Chelsea v Crystal Palace – 12:30pm
Burnley v West Ham United – 3:00pm
Newcastle United v AFC Bournemouth – 3:00pm
Southampton v Everton – 3:00pm
Tottenham Hotspur v Sheffield United – 3:00pm
Leicester City v Arsenal – 5:30pm
Sunday 10th November
Manchester United v Brighton & Hove Albion – 2:00pm
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Aston Villa – 2:00pm
Liverpool v Manchester City – 4:30pm
Picture: File photo dated 14-10-2019 of Bulgaria fans displaying a sweatshirt with the words No Respect, in the stands after an announcement over the Tannoy during the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying match at the Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia, Bulgaria. (Nick Potts/PA).