Crackdown on football racism after Eto'o jibes

28th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

28 February 2006, MADRID — Spain's government called for "the greatest possible harshness" to punish racism at football matches.

28 February 2006

MADRID — Spain's government called for "the greatest possible harshness" to punish racism at football matches.

One leftist politician said that, among the possible sanctions, the cancellation of games of offending clubs should be considered.

The general coordinator of the United Left party, Gaspar Llamazares, said those clubs whose fans were guilty of racist behaviour should have matches suspended or stadiums closed if the incidents continue.

In the latest incident, Barcelona player Samuel Eto'o, who is from Cameroon, tried to leave the field after being insulted by fans at a game against Zaragoza, who made monkey chants when he had the ball.

Eto'o was asked by team mates and his coach to continue playing the game, which his team won 2-0.

Llamazares called on the government to take a "firm" position to prevent such incidents inside the stadiums, and he said both the hooligans and stadium operators were responsible for the ugly situations.

Last year, Eto'o was also the target of racist taunts by fans when Barcelona played Zaragoza.

In February 2005, Eto'o spoke out strongly against racism.

"This does a lot of harm," Eto'o said at the time. "If sometimes they treat me like a white man because they think I earn a lot of money, imagine how they must treat the black kid who peddles things on the street."

Jaime Lissavetzky, secretary of state for sports, advocated "the greatest firmness possible in sanctions" over the racist insults levelled at Eto'o on Saturday.

Lissavetzky said in a press conference in Palma, on the Canary Islands, that "we should not look the other way" when it comes to the racist acts in the soccer stadiums.

He said professional soccer had been fighting against the blight for over a year.

A year ago, the soccer federations approved the Protocol of Action against Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance, which set out 31 measures for dealing with this problem on three levels: sensitivity, identifying those responsible and imposing more serious penalties.

Regarding the third point, according to Lissavetzky, the protocol opened the way for the possible suspension of a game if the racist insults do not end, once all the warnings have been exhausted.

He said more resources would be devoted to dealing with this problem, including using additional cameras to monitor the stands, and asked for the cooperation of the public in identifying those involved in racist acts.

With this policy, the government wants to send the message that "it is not going to take a step back" in its fight against racist acts and that the cooperation of all institutions is needed to prevent a repeat of this incident.

The non-governmental anti-racism organization SOS Racismo expressed its support for Eto'o and applauded his attempt to leave the playing field because of the chorus of insults.

SOS Racismo spokesperson Isabel Martinez said that the events in Zaragoza "are not isolated, are not the result of a fad and don't occur out of simple mimicry, but are rather the reflection of a serious social problem which is racism".

Martinez said that the player's attitude regarding leaving the field marked a "tipping point," since it is "very important that players and referees start to interrupt the games in cases of racism".

She also emphasized the need for players, fans, the club and soccer federations to get more actively involved in "preventive campaigns against racism."

Martinez also said that the organization hoped that the national government would intervene with concrete action in cases such as this because "the government's desire to avoid racist acts in sports is well-known, but now that desire must be translated into concrete deeds".

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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