UEFA’s Ceferin says fight against racism needs more work - GulfToday

UEFA’s Ceferin says fight against racism needs more work

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Mario Balotelli (centre) threatened to walk off the field after receiving alleged abuse from Hellas Verona fans last month. File / Agence France-Presse

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin says European soccer’s governing body is trying to tackle the problem of racism in the game but concedes it could do more.

A series of racist incidents have tainted European soccer recently, with Italian striker Mario Balotelli threatening to walk off the field after receiving alleged abuse from Hellas Verona fans last month while Shakhtar Donetsk forward Taison was shown a red card for reacting to racist jeers during a match.

England’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria in October was halted twice after fans at Sofia’s Levski Stadium taunted visiting black players with Nazi salutes and monkey chants.

“I am not so naive to think that we’ve done all we can and now everything is finished. We haven’t,” Ceferin told the Daily Mirror.

“We are trying and we care. We are not just some guys in Nyon sitting eating fancy food and driving Ferraris.”

Ceferin said UEFA had discussed the issue with European governments but added that it would take time win the battle against racism in football.

“I went recently to the European Union. We speak with governments. We are trying to do something,” he said. “You see, it takes time. It takes a lot of effort, a lot of discussion.”

Ceferin has also accused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of fuelling racism.

A number of high-profile incidents in recent weeks have underlined the scale of the issue.

Johnson condemned the “vile” racist chanting during England’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia in October and called for UEFA to take tough action.

But the prime minister, currently fighting an election campaign, has in the past courted controversy with various comments, including suggesting Muslim women wearing burkhas look like “letterboxes”.

In an interview with Britain’s Mirror newspaper, UEFA president Ceferin said: “When a politician that calls women with burqas post boxes or mailboxes then says publicly that he condemns you UEFA -- do you reply to that? Do you believe it’s honest? Come on.

Agence France-Presse