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FIFA demand explanation for racism abuse
Updated: 2004-11-19 10:30

FIFA have demanded an explanation from the Spanish football federation for the abuse aimed at England's black players and called for "the scourge of racism" to be eradicated from the game.

Ashley Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips were both targeted during last night's friendly in Madrid, which followed considerable racist abuse during the England Under-21 game on Tuesday.

Under FIFA's disciplinary code Spain could now be forced to play their next World Cup qualifier against San Marino on February 9 behind closed doors.

A statement from the game's world governing body said: "FIFA will be investigating the circumstances of the two friendly matches between Spain and England as they come under FIFA's ambit.

"We will demand explanations from the Spanish football association so we can examine the incidents and clarify whether the statutes, regulations and code of ethics of FIFA have been violated.

"FIFA are concerned about the latest surge of racism in football and harshly condemn these incidents.

"Coloured English players were the target for racial abuse from spectators during the Under-21 friendly match between Spain and England on November 16 and again when the nations' senior sides met on November 17.

"Last Saturday, after a match between Bastia and St Etienne, so-called fans attacked Bastia's coloured players.

"Last month, some of Arsenal's players were the object of racist abuse during a Champions League match between Panathinaikos and the English club."

FIFA president Sepp Blatter expressed his horror at the recent incidents.

He said: "There is no room whatsoever for racism or discrimination in our sport.

"On the contrary, football is a tool for building bridges and nurturing tolerance.

"The world is already too full of conflict which has its roots in racism and discrimination.

"Football has a positive influence that can and must be used to eradicate this scourge."

Under FIFA's disciplinary code, if spectators display banners bearing racist slogans at a match, the national association or club involved face a minimum ?5,000 fine and being ordered to play their next competitive match behind closed doors.

The code does not specifically cover verbal racist abuse but it is understood the same penalties could apply to the Spanish FA.

Meanwhile, sports minister Richard Caborn believes match officials should be told to abandon games where there is racist abuse.

Caborn told the Press Association: "FIFA and UEFA have consider what to do about this.

"Perhaps the fourth official should have the power to speak to the people running the match and order them to issue a warning over the public address system.

"It would in effect be a yellow card and if the abuse continues then the officials should take the players off and abandon the match."

There are precedents for such action. In Holland earlier this season, referee Rene Temmink stopped the match between ADO Den Haag and PSV Eindhoven 10 minutes from time after claiming he was insulted by anti-Semitic chants aimed at him.

FA spokesman Adrian Bevington said: "It has happened in Holland in the past few weeks and it is something that is the prerogative of match officials."

Players' chief Gordon Taylor said the FA should have taken that action themselves.

"We have to say 'enough is enough' and to set an example," said Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association.

"It's about human dignity. These were my members that were being humiliated. The message should have come down from the FA directors, to say we will take responsibility for this and take them off."

As well as Cole and Wright-Phillips being targeted by monkey noises, large sections of the 55,000 spectators in the Bernabeu stadium sang "If you are not a ******* black jump up and down" at regular intervals.

The Spanish federation and media have attempted to blame the English press for making an issue of an incident last month when Spanish coach Luis Aragones described Thierry Henry as "a black s***" in order to provoke his club-mate Jose Reyes.

The Spanish Federation's press officer Fernando Garrido said to English reporters after last night's match: "Were there racist chants against some players?

"This hasn't happened in the Spanish league and Spain for many years. You should ask yourselves what you have done to contribute to all this."

But there was also virulent abuse towards black players in the England Under-21 team on Tuesday night.

Aston Villa striker Carlton Cole, one of those targeted, said: "Even the little kids were doing it. It was going around the whole stadium.

"It's up to the Spanish FA. They really have to start taking racism seriously.

"I don't know what's going on with Spanish football at the moment and they need to put a plug in it.

"If they carry on the way they are they'll be seen as a racist nation and they surely don't want that. Football's very big over there and they don't want to be seen as racists."

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