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Fifa president calls for stronger fight against racism as Southgate hails his side's reaction to abuse in Bulgaria

‘Join us and think together of new, stronger and more effective ways to eradicate racism in football,’ Gianna Infantino said.

Fifa President Gianni Infantino (file pic).
Fifa President Gianni Infantino (file pic).

FIFA PRESIDENT GIANNI Infantino has called for “new, stronger and more effective ways to eradicate racism in football” in the wake of England players suffering abuse in Bulgaria.

Uefa has charged the Bulgarian Football Union over racist behaviour by fans during the Three Lions’ 6-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win, with world football’s governing body pledging to extend any sanctions imposed.

The game was halted twice before half-time and a group of supporters who made “monkey chants” and Nazi salutes were ejected from the ground.

Tuesday’s fallout has subsequently seen the resignation of BFU president Borislav Mihaylov after Prime Minister Boyko Borissov threatened to cut funding if he did not step down, though national manager Krasimir Balakov maintains there was no such racism displayed in Sofia.

Former Uefa president Infantino, who reportedly attended North Korea’s 2022 World Cup qualifier with South Korea this week, suggested now is the time for football to take a harder line against racism, including life bans for any perpetrators.

“So many times we say there is no place for racism in football, but nonetheless we still face challenges to tackle this problem in our sport, as we do in society,” he said.

“We will need the support of public authorities to help us identify and punish the culprits but we probably also need to think more broadly on what we can do to fix this. 

“When we proposed the three-step procedure in 2009 when I was at Uefa, and then made the regulations even tougher a few years later, we could not have imagined that so shortly thereafter we would again be having to think of how to combat this obnoxious disease that seems to be getting even worse in some parts of the world.”

Infantino added: “I call on all football governing bodies to join us and think together of new, stronger and more effective ways to eradicate racism in football. 

“As a starting point, I suggest that all competition organisers enact regulations which envisage life bans from stadiums for those who are found guilty of racist behaviour at a football match. Fifa can then enforce such bans at a worldwide level.”

bulgaria-v-england-uefa-euro-2020-qualifying-group-a-vasil-levski-national-stadium Southgate speaks to Tyrone Mings. Source: Nick Potts

Meanwhile, England boss Gareth Southgate has hailed his players’ resolved and says they will be stronger after the incidents in Bulgaria.

“We’ve had to go through an incredible amount in 72 hours – football, non-football, everything else,” he said, adding that his side considered abandoning the match after half-time but after speaking it over in the dressing room, England decided to come out to play the second half.

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“[There was] something completely different for them all to deal with but we knew tonight was enough experience for a multitude of reasons. The response, their focus, the way that they played throughout the stoppages in the game and back into it was remarkable. So, bizarrely, I think they’ve actually gained strength from the experience.

They shouldn’t have had to go through that. But I think in terms of the way they dealt with it, I don’t think they could have done it in a more impressive manner.

Ryan Bailey steps into the presenter’s chair where he’s joined by Murray Kinsella and Eoin Toolan on the line for Japan to tee up one of the biggest, if not the biggest week in Irish rugby: a World Cup quarter-final against back-to-back champions New Zealand.


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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