September 24, 2020

UEFA President Michel Platini says refs must stop games over racism


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UEFA President Michel Platini

A BBC Panorama programme highlighted incidents of racism at stadiums in Poland and Ukraine, who will co-host Euro 2012.

“Referees can finish the game. They have this power in case of racism,” Platini told the BBC’s David Bond.

“That is, I think, the best way to protect the game against racism.”

Platini dismissed suggestions that his reputation would be tarnished if there was racial abuse at Euro 2012.

“My reputation because there are racists in Poland and Ukraine – are you joking? You think I am responsible for the racists in the rest of Europe or in England or in France?” he said

“My responsibility is not to do nothing – and we have done a lot to change the rules, to change the regulations, to help ‘You’re Fair’ and ‘Never Again’.  We help them, we do a lot for racism – but I am not responsible for society.

“The society is not so easy. You have some problems and we have to organise these Euros from the beginning with some problems because these two countries never welcome so big an event in the past.

“It was a big challenge for Poland, big challenge for Ukraine, a big challenge for Uefa – and we have done our best.

Asked about the footage shown in Panorama’s documentary, he said: “We are shocked about racists but we are trying to do something; we have to fight against that.

“I feel bad. Of course I feel bad because I am not a racist.”

Platini insists officials will book any player who walks off the pitch without permission – even if they are a victim of racial abuse.

The clarification comes after Manchester City and Italy striker Mario Balotelli threatened to walk off the pitch if he believed he was a victim.

Platini said: “It’s a yellow card. It’s not a player – Mr Balotelli – who’s in charge of refereeing. It’s the referee who takes these decisions.

“So the referee has been given advice and he can stop the game if there are problems.”

The 56-year-old also insisted the issue of racism is one that extends far beyond the two host nations of Euro 2012.

Platini, who has been Uefa president since January 2007, said: “If you want to have a programme on racism you can go everywhere now because there is an increase in the nationalists in many, many countries. It is not just a fact only in Poland and Ukraine.

“You can go in France, United States, in England and you will find the problem of racism. You have more nationalists in many, many countries in east of Europe – that is true.”

The UEFA president has previously criticised the host nations, describing Ukrainian hoteliers as “bandits” for the rising cost of accommodation and bemoaning the quality of pitches in Poland.

The Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, has downplayed fears over racist attacks in Ukraine, saying hooligans were known to the authorities and security services “will be watching all the matches closely”.

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