Henry: Deduct points from teams with abusive fans
HARRISON, N.J. (AP)
Thierry Henry wants soccer officials to deduct points in the standings from teams whose fans racially abuse players.
Several players have been targets of abuse from supporters in recent weeks, including American forward Jozy Altidore of the Dutch club AZ Alkmaar, Barcelona defender Daniel Alves and AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, who led his teammates off the field during an exhibition game in protest.
FIFA ordered Hungary and Bulgaria to play home World Cup qualifiers in empty stadiums next month for anti-Semitic and racist behavior by fans.
''Maybe take some points away,'' Henry said Monday during an interview with The Associated Press. ''I'm not in charge of taking control of all the stuff. Those are only suggestions.''
Henry, a former Arsenal, Barcelona and French national team star now with Major League Soccer's New York Red Bulls, thinks more attention is being focused these days on fans who misbehave.
''It's not that it is happening more, it's more that the players are making people notice it more,'' he said. ''A lot of the time, a player used to go along with it, so you guys wouldn't have known about it. ... Now the players are calling the ref and pointing at the guy and saying that guy is saying something bad.''
Red Bulls teammate Tim Cahill says the issue is ''not about points'' but rather about disciplining the fans involved.
''For me it's a ban,'' he said. ''I don't know if you can punish a whole club for some minority of supporters.''
Los Angeles Galaxy forward Robbie Keane also wants the supporters punished, not the club.
''You can't control everybody,'' he said. ''The certain individual that does that has to be kind of just removed and banned from ever going to any game again.''
On the other controversial topic of late in European soccer, Henry said he had no knowledge of any attempts at match fixing.
''I've never been involved in any of this type of thing,'' he said. ''Surprising is the word.''
Preparing for the start of his third full season with Major League Soccer's New York Red Bulls, Henry said the league would get a boost if Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, his former Premier League rival, signs with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
''I think it would be a perfect fit for this league and that can be something amazing. I don't know where he's going to go or if he comes. He might stay at Chelsea. Who knows?'' Henry said. ''What a professional and obviously what a player he still is because he's performing with Chelsea and he's performing for England.''
Keane smiled when asked whether he had spoken with Lampard and wouldn't give a direct answer.
''Frank is a big-name player,'' he said. ''Hopefully, we get him.''