UEFA President Urges Tougher Action on Abuse of Players

By: Gyang Dakwo

In an effort to tackle abuse of players, including racism, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said soccer bodies and clubs could push for criminal prosecutions.

“Maybe it is time to go with harsher measures. Maybe it is time to put some people in court,” Ceferin said in his keynote speech at the UEFA Congress ahead of his unopposed re-election as president.

Although Ceferin did not specify any case, Real Madrid forward Vinícius Júnior, who is Black, has been subjected to repeated abuse at Spanish league games this season. Those domestic games are outside UEFA’s jurisdiction.

Ceferin, a Slovenian lawyer, said soccer “is an inclusive sport” which is open to everyone.

“Unfortunately, some people have still not grasped this concept, which is why we’re going to have to rethink our approach,” Ceferin said. “In cooperation with the federations and the clubs, we would need to target offenders more effectively whenever a player is subjected to racist, homophobic, or sexist insults during UEFA competitions.”

UEFA disciplinary rules hold clubs and national federations responsible for racist and offensive conduct by their fans at European competition games.

Sanctions for clubs and federations are typically fines and closing a section of a stadium for future games. They are then responsible for imposing bans from the stadium for their own fans.