Spain’s sports minister Jaime Lissavetzky has promised to get tough in dealing with racism in football with action promised against the ultra groups that encourage racist behaviour.
“We need the courage to confront this problem and act decsively against it,” Lissavetzky said when he presented the new “Hold out your hand” initiative designed to raise awareness of the problem amongst football fans.
“We have made progress, but there are still a lot of things to do and we won’t close our eyes to the problem.
“Football needs to provide an example to the rest of society in this matter. We want to be radical and get to the root of the problem.
“It is the ultra groups that are often the seed bed of these attitudes. They don’t represent the views of Spanish society and we need to eliminate them.”
The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), the Football League (LFP), UEFA, Spanish anti-racist groups as well as players and fans associations are all backing the “Hold out your hand” campaign.
“We are raising awareness on the one hand, but also improving the methods of detection of the perpetrators and introducing stronger punishments,” Lissavetzky said.
“We are in the process of passing a new law against racism, xenophobia and intolerance and we hope it will be a useful tool in helping us achieve our aim of zero tolerance against racism.”
Outbreaks of racist abuse have become an all too common occurrence at Spanish football matches in recent years, with leading clubs such as Atletico Madrid, Real Zaragoza and Getafe receiving fines as a result of the behaviour of their fans.