|Uefa President Michel Platini: “Racism is intolerable”
The battle to fight racism in French football has been taken to the next leading with leading sporting figures from around the country uniting in thei quest for a solution.
Uefa president Michel Platini, sports minister Bernard Laporte and French league president Frederic Thiriez all spoke out after racism tarnished the image of French soccer once again last weekend.
“The fight against racism is the dossier I want to work the most on, as it is something intolerable,” Platini told French radio.
Thiriez wants the government to crack down on a far-right group of fans from first-division club Metz calling themselves “The Faction’, which includes the even more extreme “Identity Youth” group.
“It is without doubt the time to announce such a dissolution for the first time,” Thiriez said, adding that he has submitted the matter to the interior ministry.
About 10 members of “Youth Identity” made Nazi salutes at the end of last week’s match at French leader Lyon, in response to Metz players throwing T-shirts into the crowd emblazoned with an anti-racism logo.
Metz stewards present at Stade Gerland on Saturday are working with police to identify the culprits, who could face up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $22,600 dollars.
“I hope banning orders will be given by the police chief,” Thiriez said.
“Everyone has to do their job. Football is doing it, public authorities have to do it.”
Metz fan banned
In a separate incident, a Metz fan has been banned from attending matches for three months for making racist remarks to Valenciennes captain Abdeslam Ouaddou, who is Moroccan, on February 16.
On Friday, some Bastia fans at a second-division match against Libourne Saint-Seurin unfurled a racist banner aimed at Boubacar Kebe, who is black and from Burkina Faso.
The referee delayed the start by three minutes until the banner was removed.
“The Ouaddou affair is very serious,” Platini said.
“But it concerns an isolated individual. The Kebe affair is even worse, as it is premeditated.”
Platini has previously called for the creation of a specialized police force dedicated to fighting racism in soccer.
Kebe refused to play Friday because he had already been racially insulted by some Bastia supporters on September 14, when he reacted with a gesture that led to him being sent off.
Bastia could face a further points deduction, but Laporte does not think this is enough, saying clubs should be held financially responsible for the behaviour of its fans.