Premier League

Roberts criticizes new racism rules

Reading striker Jason Roberts has slammed the new minimum racism ban.
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Reading striker Jason Roberts has claimed players were not consulted properly over the Football Association's decision to bring in a five-match minimum ban for racist or other discriminatory abuse rather than follow UEFA's 10-game sanction.

Roberts, who was critical of the FA and football's anti-racism group Kick It Out following the John Terry racism case, said there had been a lack of leadership at the governing body.

He said on Twitter: "While Uefa propose a 10 match ban for racism, the FA decides on 5! Who do they consult on these decision? Certainly not the players.

"The last 18 months regarding equality at the FA has consisted of bad decisions, lack of will, lack of consultation and lack of leadership!

"Poor decisions on high profile cases, a weak "92" point plan and now 5 games, confirms, it is left to the players concerned to effect change."

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The FA's sanction will be the "entry level" punishment for the "least serious" discriminatory offenses - including racist and homophobic abuse - with longer bans for higher level offenses.

Players found guilty of offenses will have to attend educational programs, and a second offense will be a minimum 10-game ban.

Clubs who have two or more players found guilty of discrimination offenses within a 12-month period will also face charges and could even have points deducted.

Although there are no openly gay footballers in English professional football, the rules will apply to any player who uses homophobic abuse to any other player.

The new rules come after a review of sanctions following the high-profile cases which saw Chelsea captain Terry banned for four matches and Liverpool forward Luis Suarez for eight games for racist abuse on the pitch.

There is potential embarrassment for the FA however given that it is hosting UEFA's Congress in London next week, and Europe's governing body will submit a resolution recommending that all member associations follow its lead on 10 matches.

FA chairman David Bernstein defended the FA's decision not to follow UEFA's lead on Thursday, saying the five-game ban had been agreed by all parts of the English game including Kick It Out.

He said: "From our point of view (a 10-match ban) has no subtlety to it. It should have subtlety to it. Any racism is unacceptable but there are different levels of offense.

"It's also a timing issue. We have been through an extensive process and have to get it approved through English football. (UEFA's advice) came in right at the end of the process when we have spent months getting a consensus.

"But if European football says the line is in the wrong place then we may have to re-evaluate that."

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