UEFA have charged the English Football Association over the racist abuse by England fans during last week’s EURO2004 qualifier against Turkey.
The FA were already facing charges related to the pitch invasions which occurred during the tmatch at the Stadium of Light but now face the much more serious charge of racism by England supporters.
The decision increases the possibility of England being forced to play their next European Championship qualifier behind closed doors.
UEFA said in a statement: ‘UEFA has today started disciplinary proceedings against the Football Association of England in relation to ‘racist abuse by English supporters’ at the UEFA EURO 2004 qualifying match on 2nd April between England and Turkey. This follows a review of the material evidence, including an official complaint by the Turkish FA.’
Mike Lee, UEFA’s director of communications and public affairs, said: ‘Having reviewed the match England versus Turkey of April 2, UEFA have decided to widen the case against the FA to include racist abuse by supporters – they have until April 21 to submit their response.
‘Detailed evidence will now be supplied to our control and disciplinary body for their meeting on May 1 and all issues relating to this match will be dealt with at that meeting.’
Although most of the crowd trouble at the game took place outside the ground, there was also abuse inside the ground with anti-Turk and anti-muslim chants clearly audible.
UEFA’s decision comes after European football’s governing body studied reports from the referee and match delegate and viewed television footage. The FA have already conceded there was racist abuse.
After the match, the FA condemned the abuse, with Marketing and communications director Paul Barber stating: ‘We are concerned about instances of racist chanting which have been reported to the police and we strongly condemn such behaviour by any fans.’
England’s next qualifier is against Slovakia at Middlesbrough on June 11. Ironically, it was following England’s previous match in Slovakia that the FA submitted at an official complaint because of the racist abuse meted out to England’s black players. As a result of the abuse, UEFA ordered the Slovaks to play their next match behind closed doors.
Disciplinary proceedings have also been instigated against the Turkish FA for thebehaviour of their players in the tunnel after the match.