Soccer

Blatter attacks amount of fine for Roma after racial abuse

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The Canadian Press
5/14/2013 10:00:27 AM
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LONDON -- FIFA President Sepp Blatter has criticized Italian football authorities for the "unacceptable" decision to only fine Roma 50,000 euros ($64,865) after their fans racially abused AC Milan players.

Play was stopped for almost two minutes during the second half of Sunday's match when visiting Roma supporters would not stop abusing Milan players Mario Balotelli and Kevin-Prince Boateng, who are black.

Warnings issued over the stadium speaker system went unheeded, leading to a Serie A match being suspended due to racism for the first time.

"Small fines for racist abuse (are) unacceptable," Blatter wrote Tuesday on Twitter.

Blatter's willingness to tackle racism in football was previously questioned, and he was forced to apologize in 2011 for saying incidents between players on the field should be settled by a handshake.

But Blatter has put renewed vigour into the fight against racism since Boateng led his teammates off the field when he was racially abused during a friendly against an Italian fourth-tier team in January.

"What is surprising and is not understandable for me, is that the disciplinary committee of the Italian Football Federation has taken a decision, not even 24 hours after the event, by just imposing a fine," Blatter said Tuesday on FIFA's website. "They have not made any investigation of what happened. And just to give a pecuniary sanction is not valid, that is not acceptable. You will always find money.

"What is 50,000 euros for such an incident? I'm not happy and I will call the Italian federation. That's not a way to deal with such matters."

The Boateng incident in January following a spate of racial-abuse cases in England prompted Blatter to establish a task force to propose stricter sanctions.

In plans being presented to the FIFA Congress later this month, teams face being thrown out of competitions or even relegated if their players, officials or fans are found guilty of any form of discrimination.

"In this resolution, there are foreseen sanctions -- and these sanctions must be applied all around the world," Blatter said. "That's why we need the congress' decision. That will bind together all the 209 associations."

UEFA, at its congress in London next week, will ask its 53 members to adopt a series of tougher racism sanctions.

UEFA wants a partial stadium closure to be imposed on clubs if there is racism in the stands -- rather than just a fine for a racist offence. If there are further incidents, UEFA is advocating clubs being forced to play matches behind closed doors.

A 10-game minimum ban for players found guilty of abuse is also being proposed.

The English Football Association is looking to push through its own plans for a five-game minimum ban for racist abuse at its annual general meeting this week.

In England in recent years, Liverpool striker Luis Suarez received an eight-match ban for racially abusing an opponent and Chelsea captain John Terry was suspended for four matches.

Sepp Blatter (Photo: Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)
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