UEFA Threatens to Exclude Clubs That Permit Sustained Cases of Racism

BRUSSELS Belgium (AP) - Soccer clubs guilty of permitting sustained racism could be excluded from European competitions.

"We are prepared to implement the necessary sanctions from fines and closure of stadium ... and even to not allow teams to participate at all'' said Per Ravn Omdal vice president of European soccer's governing body.

UEFA met Wednesday with members of the European Parliament who sought support of their proposal for firm action against racism.

Assessing a series of incidents over recent weeks Omdal said referees had to be much more aware of taunts and not hesitate to interrupt or abandon matches.

"Those who did not wake up you have to wake up - because the referee can do a lot in a specific game'' he said.

Among the powers of the referee is to abandon the game if racism becomes an issue.

UEFA hopes half the European parliamentarians will sign the declaration and make it an official EU resolution.

Soccer in Italy and Spain is particularly affected by racism. On Sunday a black player for Messina was reduced to tears by Inter Milan fans and threatened to walk off the field.

In response Tuesday's Italian Cup match at AC Milan started five minutes late so a "No To Racism'' banner could be unfurled on the field. The Italian soccer federation's message will be displayed at all Italian Cup and Serie A matches this week.

"European legislation forbids racism in general and discrimination in the workplace in particular'' said European parliamentarian Emine Bozkurt a Dutchman arguing stadiums are the prime workplace for soccer players.