'Fighting racism, match-fixing and doping'

"We are keen to do whatever we can to fight the scourges of our sport," said UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino after the UEFA Executive Committee decisions in London.

'Fighting racism, match-fixing and doping'
'Fighting racism, match-fixing and doping' ©UEFA.com

Decisions taken by the UEFA Executive Committee at its meeting in London can be seen as part of the European body's overall campaign to combat the negative influences that threaten football's well-being.

The committee, chaired by UEFA President Michel Platini, has introduced stricter sanctions against racist conduct within the latest edition of the UEFA disciplinary regulations, which came into force at the start of June, and UEFA will start conducting blood tests in UEFA competitions from next season.

UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino told UEFA.com: "This is part of a process. We are always striving for the best, and we are keen to do whatever we can to fight against the scourges of our sport – match-fixing is one, racism is one and doping is one as well."

The new disciplinary regulations include tougher sanctions for racist conduct – a minimum ten-match ban for players or officials, a partial stadium closure for the first offence in the event of racist behaviour by spectators, and full stadium closure for a second offence as well as a €50,000 fine. The XXXVII Ordinary UEFA Congress in London also saw the presentation of a resolution stepping up the fight against racism, discrimination and intolerance.

"UEFA now has some experience in the last ten years," said Mr Infantino. "We had over 120 cases on racism, and we have seen that, unfortunately, the sanctions that were taken were not sufficient to eradicate racism.

"The Executive Committee discussed this and thought we need to act – and not only to speak about fighting against racism and zero tolerance. For this reason, it was very important to send out a strong message – on the one side, we improve our awareness campaigns, and on the other side, we strengthen our sanctions against racism."

On the anti-doping front, blood tests will be carried out in UEFA competitions in addition to the standard urine tests. Up to now, blood tests have only been conducted at the UEFA European Championship final tournament.

Mr Infantino said: "As we analysed the results of the anti-doping blood-testing that we did at UEFA EURO 2012, we thought that we should implement blood-testing in our competitions too, in order to enhance our anti-doping programme – which was and is very tough, and which [will] be even more so through the introduction of blood tests."

With respect to match-fixing, additional power has been granted to the UEFA disciplinary bodies, which enables them to act if a UEFA member association fails to punish, or punishes in an inappropriate manner, offences which damage football's essence. The offences targeted relate in particular to match-fixing, corruption and doping.

The UEFA Executive Committee has also removed any period of limitation for offences of corruption/bribery and match-fixing, which will allow disciplinary action to be taken irrespective of when such an offence took place.

Two major football strongholds will stage the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League finals in 2015 – Berlin and Warsaw respectively – following another Executive Committee decision in London.

The National Stadium Warsaw
The National Stadium Warsaw©Sportsfile

"These are two great football cities," said Mr Infantino. "The Olympiastadion in Berlin staged the [FIFA] World Cup final in 2006 and [hosts] the German Cup final every year. It's a beautiful venue, there will a great celebration of European football – and as we have an all-German final in England this year, perhaps we'll have an all-English final in Germany in two years' time!

"[The National Stadium in] Warsaw staged the opening match at UEFA EURO 2012 – it is a beautiful city in the centre of Europe and is very accessible with a fantastic stadium. We are looking forward very much to going back. One of the ideas when you create beautiful venues is that you can go back to these countries for finals of club competitions."