(Adds UEFA comment)
ZURICH, Oct 15 (Reuters) - European soccer body UEFA needs more help from governments to eliminate racism from football, its president Aleksander Ceferin said on Tuesday, after England’s black players were subjected to monkey chants during their Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria.
The game, won 6-0 by England, was twice halted in the first half and a public announcement was made under UEFA’s three-step protocol for dealing with racist incidents during matches.
“Football associations themselves cannot solve this problem,” said Ceferin in a UEFA statement. “Governments too need to do more in this area. Only by working together in the name of decency and honour will we make progress.”
The Slovenian said the rise of nationalism across had “fuelled some unacceptable behaviour and some have taken it upon themselves to think that a football crowd is the right place to give voice to their appalling views.”
Ceferin rejected the suggestion that UEFA was not doing enough, saying that partial stadium closures - the most commonly-used sanction along with fines - cost home teams hundreds of thousands of Euros in lost revenue and attached a stigma to their fans.
“As a governing body, I know we are not going to win any popularity contests. But some of the views expressed about UEFA’s approach to fighting racism have been a long way off the mark,” he said.
“UEFA’s sanctions are among the toughest in sport for clubs and associations whose supporters are racist at our matches. ...Believe me, UEFA is committed to doing everything it can to eliminate this disease from football.”
Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by Angus MacSwan