Keir RadnedgeUEFA is standing by its promise to crack down, at long last, on racist behaviour by fans, player and officials.

The European federation’s executive committee, meeting in London yesterday and today ahead of tomorrow’s annual congress, approved changes proposed to its disciplinary code earlier this year.

Fans guilty of racist chanting will attract, in the first instance, a partial closure of a stadium; a second offence will result in a full stadium closure plus a E50,000 fine.

Players or officials guilty of racist behaviour would incur a minimum 10-match ban.

Gianni Infantino, UEFA’s general secretary, said: “We will now have tougher sanctions to fight against racist behaviour. This is absolutely in line with UEFA’s zero tolerance policy to act and not talk and do something concrete and that’s why the executive committee took a strong stance on this.”

UEFA stood accused, for years, of not taking racist behaviour seriously. On one notorious occasion it fined then Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira for criticising its disciplinary body for an insufficient reaction to racist chanting by Valencia fans.

A minimum ban for insulting a referee has been increased from two to three matches with a minimum tariff for an assault being lifted from 10 to 15 matches.

Infantino added: “We feel the word ‘respect’ has to have a concrete meaning and so sanctions for insulting or assaulting match officials have also been strengthened.”

In addition UEFA’s disciplinary bodies have been granted wider authority to punish member associations which, it feels, have not been rigorous enough punishing matchfixing, corruption in general and doping.

This includes scrapping all statutes of limitations so UEFA may pursue even the oldest cases of matchfixing.

Infantino said: “This means that if it comes out that a match was fixed, say, 15 years ago then the disciplinary body can deal with the matter.”

All new disciplinary regulations, including those dealing with racist behaviour, will come into effect on June 1 and thus include next month’s European under-21 finals in Israel.

UEFA is launching a study into steroid use by players in its competitions over the past five years in preparation for the launch of steroid-biological passport programme.

It will also carry out blood tests from next season in all of its competitions. Until now blood tests had been implemented only in the finals of the European Championship in 2010 and 2012.

** The Champions League in 2015 will be staged in Berlin and the Europa League Final in Warsaw. The 2014 finals had already been allocated to Benfica Lisbon and Turin.

By Keir Radnedge

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