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UEFA chief executive Lars-Christer Olsson told the “Unite against Racism” conference in Barcelona that the body is prepared to offer incentives to encourage national associations to address the issue of racism more seriously.

“We haven’t fully explored the powers at our disposal at the moment,” Olsson told the conference.

“UEFA, FIFA, national associations and clubs need to take tough action, but tougher sanctions alone won’t solve the problem.

“We need to follow a two-stage policy of heightening awareness and then trying to change people’s beliefs.”

The conference aims to address the question of racism in the game, and propose solutions to the problem.

Former Chelsea, Celtic and Bari player Paul Elliott said that the time had come for a “zero tolerance” policy.

“As a player I experienced banana throwing, monkey chanting and threats of violence in the 1970s and 80s,” he said.

“Back in the 70s racism was conveniently swept under the carpet. We’ve come a long way since then, but we’ve got a long way still to go.

“The crucial step forward now is to insist that no one is above the law,” he said. “We have a golden chance to score a goal against racism by ensuring that footballers have the right to a racism free environment in their workplace.

Speakers said the abuse received by visiting black players during Spain’s friendly international against England last season was unacceptable.

“I was horrified to see English footballers abused here when they played in Spain,” said Claude Moraes, a British MEP.

“The most horrifying thing was that middle class, professional people, families and young people were involved and they felt it was normal.

“This is a human issue which can be addressed by legislation, implementation and enforcement. Only by enforcement will the racists get the message.”

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